BEIJING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers are celebrating a breakthrough in the treatment of eye disease by using "waste" corneal lenses after laser surgery for near- and far-sightedness.
A research team in Shanghai has improved visual acuity of a patient with corneal disease, by implanting a corneal lens extracted from a donor's eye after a laser surgery.
In laser eye surgery for nearsightedness (or farsightedness), the laser creates a small lens shaped pieces of corneal tissue known as lenticule, inside the cornea, which takes an average of 23 seconds. The surgeon then removes the lens to reshape the cornea and correct visual acuity.
The corneal lenses are useless for patients with near- and far-sightedness, and are abandoned after the laser surgery.
More than 500,000 laser eye surgeries are performed a year in China, prompting researchers to consider using the "waste lenses" to deal with corneal ectasia, a common corneal disease, which usually occurs in people aged 16 to 20, and leads to irregular astigmatism and nearsightedness. Severe cases can lead to blindness and require corneal transplantation. Due to lack of corneal material, many patients are waiting for corneal transplants in China.
Since 2010, the research team has succeeded in experiments on rabbits and monkeys.
In 2015, the team implanted a corneal lens of a donor with farsightedness into a patient on the verge of a cornea transplant. Two years later, the patient's myopia decreased from 1,350 degrees to 325 degrees, and astigmatism decreased from 600 degrees to 150 degrees.
The research, led by Zhou Xingtao at the Eye and ENT Hospital of Fudan University, has been published in the Journal of Refractive Surgery.
The treatment, reusing "waste" corneal lenses will bring hope to more patients suffering corneal diseases, said Zhou.