Dr. T. Georgiou: the first in Cyprus to use new laser-based cornea transplant procedure at Ophthalmos Laser Centre
Ophthalmos Research & Educational Institute performed laser-based cornea transplants in Cyprus on October 4, 2007.
The procedure is called IntraLase-Enabled Keratoplasty” (IEK”). The IntraLase laser is the first laser in Cyprus used to create corneal incisions for full-thickness corneal transplants. This achievement continues the tradition of leading-edge firsts by Ophthalmos Research & Educational Institute. Ophthalmos Research & Educational Institute was also the first eye Institute in Cyprus to treat keratoconus, presbyopia, myopia up to 14D, problems on corneas due to previous damage by older laser technologies, treat vision correction with IntraLase-Lasik and more.
In corneal transplant surgery, the surgeon removes the central portion of the cloudy cornea and replaces it with a clear cornea, usually donated through an eye bank. When the cornea becomes cloudy, light cannot penetrate the eye to reach the light-sensitive retina. Poor vision or blindness may result. In 2004, 46,841 corneal grafts were supplied by over 42,000 donors through US eye banks; 32,106 corneal transplants were performed in the US.
Cornea transplant surgery is typically done with a Trephine Corneal Cutter, a hand-held bladed “cookie cutter” that stamps onto the cornea to make a circular incision with straight vertical edges. This technique requires suturing around the circumference of the tissue graft to maintain the position of the new cornea. Sutures stay in the eye for at least one year, possibly longer and patients generally don’t achieve full visual recovery for at least one year. After traditional corneal transplantation, very little pressure is required to displace the donor tissue from the patient’s eye.
The IEK procedure allows the surgeon to use a computer-guided ultra-fast femtosecond laser to create precisely shaped incisions. Fitting together like a puzzle, these shaped incisions may result in a more stable graft and faster healing, and require fewer sutures to keep the graft in place. Sutures may also be removed much earlier (before six months). Another potential advantage is better corrected vision with less irregularity and less astigmatism with potentially better uncorrected vision.
Past experience with exacting laser techniques indicates that this method will provide a more stable graft that will speed patient healing and visual recovery. Risk for displacement is greatly reduced as shaped incisions have demonstrated a seven-fold increase in strength. These are all clinical benefits that have not been possible with the manual trephine corneal cutter.
Dr. Georgiou is pleased to provide Cypriots with the chance to receive the most innovative care in corneal transplantation. “For the first time,” says Georgiou, “the laser can be used to precisely and accurately cut the exact size, shape, and depth of both the donor tissue and the host tissue.” Because of the interlocking incision, the graft is more stable and has the potential for faster healing. This translates to more rapid visual recovery for patients after corneal transplantation.