MIAMI, FL – Doctors in Florida have used a blind woman’s tooth to help her see again.
Specialists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have announced that they are the first to use a person’s tooth to restore sight. It’s called modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis.
The patient is Sharron Thornton, who went blind nine years ago from Stevens-Johnson syndrome. It caused her eyes to severely scar, leaving her legally blind.
Doctors discovered only the surface of her eyes was effected, and that the inside was still functional.
“This is a patient where the surface of the eye is totally damaged — no wetness, no tears,” said Dr. Victor L. Perez. “So we kind of recreate the environment of the mouth in the eye.”
They did this by removing one of her teeth, and implanting some of the dental tissue directly into the eye. The tissue is shaped to create a new cornea.
They also used a small portion of her cheek to create the soft tissue around her pupil.
Finally, the tooth itself was modified and implanted to support a prosthetic lens.
Using so much of her own tissue lowers the risk of rejection of the transplants.
From the moment Thornton opened her eyes, she has been able to see moderately well, with a vision of 20/70. Doctors are hoping to apply similar procedures to those with chemical burns, and soldiers who return home scarred.