Thursday, September 17, 2009

Literally an Eye Tooth

Sharon "Kay" Thornton can see again after almost a decade of blindness after having part of a tooth implanted in her eye to support a plastic lens.

Suffering from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a reaction to medication that caused her to lose her sight in 2000, Thornton had tried a stem cell procedure to correct her blindness; she was not a candidate for a corneal transplant.

The entire process takes months to complete and has only been performed about 600 times world wide. This is the first time it was performed in the United States.

First, a healthy tooth and part of the patient's jawbone are removed. The tooth and bone are shaved and sculpted, and a hole was drilled into them to hold the prosthetic lens. Then the whole unit is implanted into the patient's chest and left for several months, so that the tooth and lens can bond. Finally, it is implanted in the eye.

If the eye is healthy enough a piece of plastic may be used instead of a tooth.

Following the procedure Thornton can see about 20/70 out of her repaired eye without corrective lenses.

In order to qualify for the procedure Thornton had to meet strict criteria: she had to have end-stage ocular surface disease, had to be able to detect light well enough to tell what direction its coming from, and she also had to have a healthy mouth and a good tooth.

In Thornton's case, of course, they used her canine, also known as an eye tooth.

Yahoo News
AOL News (photo)
Mayo Clinic

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