First artificial corneal transplant in Syria restores sight to woman

Damascus, SANA-A medical team at the ophthalmology hospital managed to cultivate an artificial cornea for a woman in her seventies, restoring eyesight to her two years after losing it.

The surgery is the first of its kind in Syria.

Rana Omran, the hospital’s director, who conducted the surgery with Dr. Somar Darwish and a medical team, said in a statement to SANA that the patient had been suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease which leads to corneal condensation and causes vision loss in its later stages. She said the patient was hospitalized after she lost vision in both eyes.

“With the personal efforts of the hospital’s doctors, we managed to import the cornea. The operation took place on Monday and by next morning; the patient was able to see by 5/10 visual acuity.

Several years ago, Taghreed realized there was something wrong with her vision. Medical counseling failed to pinpoint the problem, says her relative Salma. The ensuing measures were restricted to curing the symptoms, causing a complete sight loss to her right eye and a gradual loss in the left. Winding up in the eye hospital, the case was accurately diagnosed and the corneal transplantation decision was taken, she explains.

The successful surgery augurs well for scores of similar cases, especially cases of chemical and thermal burns. As a drawback, the new medical procedure offers no cure for patients who need normal cornea.

The economic sanctions against Syria push patients who need corneal transplantation to wait long before procuring corneas. “Patients need to wait for one year or more before normal cornea is secured,” Dr. Joseph Salloum, the hospital’s director, said.

Manal

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