Bioengineered corneas can restore vision to blind people

An unexpected bonus is that the implant has changed the shape of the cornea enough that its recipient can wear contact lenses for the best vision possible, even though they couldn’t tolerate them before.

The cornea helps focus light rays on the retina at the back of the eye and protects the eye from dirt and germs. When damaged by infection or injury, it can block light from reaching the retina, making it difficult to see.

Corneal blindness is a big problem: an estimated 12.7 million people are affected by the condition, and cases are increasing at a rate of about one million per year. Iran, India, China, and various countries in Africa have particularly high levels of corneal blindness, and especially keratoconus.

Neil Lagali, a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at Linköping University, said: “Because pig skin is a by-product of the food industry, the use of this bioengineered implantable device will cost less than a donor corneal transplant. the researchers behind the study.

“It will be affordable, even for people in low-income countries,” he said. “Much greater cost savings compared to traditional corneal transplants being performed today.”

The team hopes to conduct a larger clinical trial with at least 100 patients in Europe and the US. In the meantime, they plan to initiate the regulatory process required for the US Food and Drug Administration to eventually approve this device for market.

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