New solutions for the window of the eye
Dr. David Rootman

Dr. David Rootman (above) and Dr. Clara Chan (below) are pushing the boundaries of innovation when it comes to corneal transplant technology

​Researchers at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute are on the leading edge of corneal transplant technology

Corneal transplant techniques have come a long way. No one knows that better than Dr. David Rootman, a scientist, clinician investigator and ophthalmologist specializing in corneal surgery at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute and Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN. Dr. Rootman has performed corneal surgery for more than 30 years.

Yet, the cornea – the clear, domed window of the eye – is complicated.

The availability of human donor corneas is limited. And replacing an injured corneal component with an artificial one is not always successful.

"There are some [eye] conditions where it's like planting a tree in the middle of the desert and not giving it any water," says Dr. Rootman. "It's not going to survive."

Fortunately, advances in artificial cornea surgery, also called keratoprosthesis, are on the horizon. An Israeli medical device company is developing a new synthetic cornea that bio-integrates with the eye wall using nanofabric – a textile that is engineered with microscopic fibres that give it special characteristics.

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