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ArtCornea  (Source: Fraunhofer IAP)
A second artificial cornea was developed for those with corneal damage

A team of German researchers has created an artificial cornea to restore the vision of those with corneal damage.

The research team, hailing from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer research in Potsdam, Germany, created an artificial cornea from the ART CORNEA project. Dr. Joachim Storsberg and a Fraunhofer team are responsible for the development.

Many people go blind due to damage to the cornea. This can happen via trauma, disease or absent limbal stem cells. Receiving a new cornea from a donor can help restore sight, but not all patients have this option for one of two reasons: there aren't enough donors, or they don't tolerate transplanted corneas.

That is why the Fraunhofer team developed two different artificial corneas. One can be used on those that do not tolerate transplanted corneas, and the other acts as a treatment to those with a damaged cornea and are waiting on a donor.

ArtCornea, which is the artificial cornea for those that do not tolerate transplanted corneas, is based on a polymer that has significant water-absorbing characteristics. It has a new surface coating and a chemically enhanced haptic edge that encourages cell growth and allows for anchorage in host tissue. The optical surface area was also increased for better light penetration, and the end result was an artificial cornea that is barely visible and does not provoke an immune response.

The second artificial cornea, called ACTO-TexKpro, has an inert base material that is biologically compatible with it, allowing the patient's cornea to bond together naturally with the artificial version. The team did this by altering the base material (polyvinylidene dofluoride) via a reactive molecule coating. This also allows the implant's silicon-made inner optics to be free of cells.

The artificial corneas were tested on several rabbits, and after 6 months of healing, the implants were accepted and securely anchored.

Source: Fraunhofer



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RE: I wonder...
By Ararat698 on 10/7/2012 10:24:23 AM , Rating: 3
Guys, I'm a medical student who also has keratoconus.

In this day and age, you shouldn't need a corneal transplant. You should be getting riboflavin cross-linking of the collagen fibres of your retinas. It is a very effective treatment that halts progression of the disease, and in approximately half of patients, it actually IMPROVES vision.

Rigid gas-permeable contact lenses are obsolete, and riboflavin cross-linking is THE treatment of choice for this illness. The only reason NOT to get it, would be if your corneas are already too thin (as the first stage in the procedure involves scraping the surface epithelial cells). But all in all, it is a FAR less invasive procedure than a corneal transplant.

But in general, artificial grafts do not work as well as doner grafts, so it is unlikely this would do as good a job as one from another person.


RE: I wonder...
By Ararat698 on 10/7/2012 10:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
** I of course meant to say the collagen fibres in your corneas, NOT your retinas... I should stop typing things like this at 1:30am.


RE: I wonder...
By jvillaro on 10/7/2012 1:56:33 PM , Rating: 2
I suffer from this disease and in one eye I can use a soft lens and I can achieve very good sight, but with the other one I've past the point where no kind of lens works and the riboflavin cross-linking won't work either. I already even have a couple of little fissures and every doctor I have visited has said that my only option in this eye is corneal transplant. The riboflavin cross-linking treatment works for many people (it's NOT a cure though), a couple of friends of mine had it it done to them with good results, but in some cases it's not viable.


RE: I wonder...
By kmmatney on 10/7/2012 5:27:14 PM , Rating: 2
I was part of a 10 year study of KC at UCLA (where I was also a student) and my KC stopped progressing as soon as I started wearing RGP lens. The study basically concluded that this is common. Its now been 20 years, and things are still in check. They are not very keen on cross-linking, at least not at he UCLA eye institute. RGP lens are not obsolete by any means, although some people can't tolerate them. The people I know who tried cross-linking didn't show much change or improvement. Maybe it will work if you do it early on.

I've tried every other type of lens out there, but still found RGP lens to work best. I've also tried RGP lens from various vendors, and found that one particular lab in Colorado makes lens that are more comfortable than others. I can wear these lens 16 hours a day, while I'm barely able to tolerate lens from a few hours from other labs.


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