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Cornea Implant A First For SCV

Artificial Cornea Implant In SCV Deemed A Success.

In what is a first in the Santa Clarita Valley, a patient who was clinically blind in his right eye today successfully underwent an artificial cornea implant at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and is expected to regain his sight.

Dr. Craig Helm, a specialist in cornea and refractive surgery, performed the delicate operation at Henry Mayo’s Outpatient Surgery Center. The procedure lasted for approximately one hour, and was deemed a success for John Montante, 70, of Moorpark.

According to its manufacturer, Addition Technology, Inc., only about 450 AlphaCor artificial corneal implants have been performed world-wide, of which a mere four have taken place in the greater Los Angeles area.

“This type of artificial cornea implant is unique in that it is a new alternative for patients who are clinically blind, and who may have no other viable options,” Dr. Helm said. “The surgery is an excellent alternative for patients who have had multiple failed human corneal transplants due to tissue rejection.”

The cornea is the clear tissue that covers the front surface of the eye, and is its main focusing element. Healthy corneas allow light to pass into the eye in keen focus. However, corneal tissue can become damaged by genetic defects, infections or accidents.

The AlphaCor artificial cornea’s design and optics allow it to be implanted and perform in a manner similar to a human donor corneal graft. The corneal replacement surgery at Henry Mayo was conducted in two stages.

During the first stage, which took place today, Dr. Helm created a small pocket within Montante’s cornea to remove the damaged cornea behind the areas where the new artificial cornea was to be placed.

Dr. Helm then inserted the artificial cornea, where it will be allowed it to integrate with Montante’s own tissue to secure itself for approximately three months.

The second stage will consist of  the patient returning in approximately three months to have a window of corneal tissue removed in front of the implant to complete the procedure.

The World Health Organization reports that there are 10 million people suffering from corneal blindness in the world, but only an estimated 100,000 (40,000 in the U.S.) corneal transplants are performed each year, due to the lack of available donor tissues and the unsuitability of some patients to receive corneal graft.