A synthetic cornea could save the sight of keratoconus patients

Every year, many patients with keratoconus, trauma, or infection are waiting for corneal donations to save their sight. But, there is a lack of availability of corneal grafts.

A synthetic cornea

At the beginning of 2019, the Biomedicine Agency warned of a drop in donations of 5%. Synthetic grafts exist but for the moment are not efficient. Clinical trials are going to be conducted on a synthetic cornea CorNeat KPro, which integrates with the human eye. The start-up CorNeat Vision recently received approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health. A total of 10 patients suffering from blindness are involved. They have tried corneal transplants, which failed. The procedure could allow them to regain their sight and good quality of life.

CorNeat KPro is designed to replace deformed, scarred, or opaque corneas. Immediately after implantation below the conjunctiva, wearers should regain their vision without the use of donor corneal tissue.
. Relatively simple” implantation procedure. According to Dr. Gilad Litvin, medical director of CorNeat Vision, the implantation procedure has been developed and perfected over the past 4 years.

With an optical quality equivalent to a perfect cornea, CorNeat KPro integrates with the resident eye tissue using a new patented non-degradable synthetic nano-tissue material. The implantation procedure is “relatively simple and takes less than an hour to complete.” “We hope that CorNeat KPro will enable millions of blind patients around the world to regain their sight,” says Dr. Gilad Litvin.

Prof. Irit Bahar, director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Beilinson Hospital in Israel, called the technology “essential to reversing the trend of global blindness. Keratoconus (from the Greek kerato, “horn”, “cornea” and konos, “cone”) is a degenerative eye disease in which the cornea loses its sphericity and becomes cone-shaped.
Keratoconus can cause substantial distortions of vision, leading to multiple images, striae, and hypersensitivity to light. Keratoconus is the most common corneal dystrophy. The disease affects less than one in two thousand people (recognized as a rare disease) and appears to affect all population groups worldwide, although its prevalence is more pronounced in Asians. The disease is typically diagnosed during the patient’s adolescence and reaches its most advanced stage around 20-30 years of age.

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a little known disease with uncertain causes. Its progression after diagnosis remains unpredictable. If it affects both eyes, the deterioration of vision may affect the patient’s ability to drive a car or read normally. In most cases, corrective lenses (or contact lenses) are effective enough to allow the patient to continue to drive legally and return to normal activity. Further progression of the disease may lead to surgery including corneal transplants. Despite these uncertainties, keratoconus can be successfully controlled with a variety of medical or surgical techniques, often with little or no impairment of the patient’s quality of life.

Causes and mechanisms

Despite research, the causes of keratoconus still remain a mystery. According to the United States National Keratoconus Foundation, it is likely that this condition may result from a combination of multiple factors: genetic, environmental or cellular, each of which may lead to the onset of the disease. Once contracted, the disease develops through the progressive dissolution of Bowman’s layer, the membrane between the corneal epithelium and stroma that normally makes up most of the thickness of the cornea. When these two come into contact, structural and cellular changes in the cornea compromise its integrity and lead to the swelling characteristic of the disease. In any keratoconus cornea, regions of degenerative thinning can be detected that coexist with regions of healing injury.

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