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Artificial cornea implants for the treatment of corneal opacity

An EU-funded project developed artificial cornea implants for combating corneal opacity.
Artificial cornea implants for the treatment of corneal opacity
The cornea is a clear lens structure layering the iris and is responsible for transmitting and focusing the light that enters the eye. Corneal opacity or clouding is a disorder that affects the central or peripheral area of the cornea and results in obscured or lost vision. A variety of genetic, metabolic and idiopathic causes can result in corneal opacification, which in severe cases can lead to blindness and requires transplant surgery.

The lack of donor cornea availability, coupled with the variable success rate of keratoplasty compel the need for artificial implants to treat the disorder. So far, attempts to replace the human cornea using alloplastic material have proven unsuccessful.

The 'Development of an artificial cornea for the human eye' (Cornea) project focused on the development of keratoprostheses, artificial cornea implants, by combining cutting-edge technologies for designing and manufacturing of the implants as well as precision surgery. The consortium tested a number of different acrylic polymers for their optical clarity, hydrophobicity and flexibility. The artificial cornea implants are cylindrical in shape and usually consist of three different layers that allow for connection to the patient's tissue, hydrophilic needs and ensuring clarity of the optic part.

In order to meet these requirements, the Cornea consortium treated the keratoprosthesis surfaces with appropriate chemicals. Project partners also developed a novel sterilisation process that retained the biochemical properties of the coated polymer surfaces. Testing the implant performance in animal eyes allowed optimisation of its design prior to use in humans.

Following stability against exposure to infrared laser, the Cornea team's keratoprosthesis passed clinical evaluation and will be made available under the tradename Miro Cornea Ur. A clinical study was put in place to assess the efficacy of the artificial cornea in patients suffering from corneal opacity.

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