Miracle surgery performed for the first time in Karnataka to save a young woman’s vision

Bengaluru: A team of specialists at Sankara Eye Hospital gave 35-year-old Mamtha, a new lease of life. The woman was suffering from bilateral corneal blindness with severe dry eyes which made her completely lose her vision. The team of doctors at Sankara Eye Hospital who performed the surgery included Dr Pallavi Joshi, Consultant Cornea & Refractive Services, Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore, and Dr Vinay Pillai.

Mamtha was leading a normal and happy life until she developed a drug reaction (SJ syndrome) and lost her ability to see from both her eye due to scared and dry cornea making her life miserable and total dependent even to do her basic activities.

After consulting over a dozen hospitals and institutes for surgery that would enable her to regain the eye sight, she would return back dejected due to the complexity of the eye condition. Also, the lack of challenging surgical expertise and infrastructure that is required to give good outcome and regain her vision was missing. At this stage she visited us at Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore hoping to find any ray of hope to regain at least near normal life.

“On arrival of the patient, after a thorough investigation on her condition, we decided to perform a Modified Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis (MOOKP) which is commonly known as “tooth in eye” surgery. This is a surgical procedure to restore vision in the bilaterally severely damaged cases of corneal and altered ocular surface patients. We have a full-fledged infrastructure and highly competent team of Cornea Surgeon’s, Dentist and Anaesthetists who together perform different types of Keratoprosthesis. This patient after thorough evaluation and proper counselling agreed to get this surgery of tooth in the eye, which took us 9 months of the time period to complete consisting of 3 surgical stages of 3 months gap between each. At the end of the final surgical procedure the patient has regained 80% of her functional vision and is more than delighted and able to do her daily activities independently again after nearly a decade.” said Dr Pallavi Joshi, Consultant Cornea & Refractive Services, Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore.

In this surgery, initial preparation of the ocular surface with oral mucosa is done & patient’s own tooth is harvested and fashioned into which an optical cylinder is incorporated, this complex is left to biointergate for 2 months and later inserted into the cornea and covered with overlying mucosa, light passes through this cylinder and allows the patient to visualise objects.

This surgery is a milestone in itself as it’s the very first such surgery done in Karnataka till date and also a matter of privilege as it is done only in very few centres across India also, hence providing the much-needed service to such bilaterally corneal blind a new lease to vision.

Corneal blindness that’s the inability to see due to loss of clarity of cornea is one of the leading causes of blindness in our country. This may be due to many causes like birth defects, infection and trauma. Nearly 40% of these can be treated with corneal transplantation from another human donated cornea after death. But unfortunately, there’s another 10% of patients who have corneal blindness especially both eyes either due to chemical injury, post drug reaction, thermal burns in whom due to associated dry eyes and bad surface they don’t do well with conventional transplants and their only hope to see is through artificial cornea also called keratoprosthesis. Though the surgery is time-consuming with the inherent risk of complications, it is indeed very gratifying to see the patient regain her lost sight and smile back.

“Mamtha has been suffering for almost a decade now. Many times we almost gave up and felt helpless when the hospitals we visited informed that surgery will not be effective to regain her eye sight. She was always dependent on someone else to help her with daily chores. Today, the surgery has not only changed her life but has also changed our life drastically; she can see now. It is overwhelming to see her smile. Our faith in God and the doctors at Sankara Eye Hospital kept us going and encouraged us to stay strong through the journey of 9 months through all the 3 surgical procedure.“ said Mr Satish (husband of Mamtha)