Lien is a 55 year old woman who lives in Thanh Hoa, located 180 kilometers from Hanoi. When she was only 16 years old, she suffered a severe thermal injury to both eyes caused by boiling water. After the injury, her vision became significantly impaired due to scarring and vascularization of both corneas. In spite of seeing many ophthalmologists, each told her that she was not a candidate for a corneal transplant due to the severe nature of the thermal injury that each eye sustained. In spite of being told for years that nothing could be done to restore her vision, she remained optimistic that one day she could see again.
In late 2014, Dr. Pham Ngoc Dong, Chief, Dept. of Corneal and External Diseases at Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology, advised Lien that he could restore her sight with an artificial cornea, a surgical technique that he learned through his participation in a course on the Boston type I keratoprosthesis (artificial cornea) conducted by Dr. Anthony Aldave. On Jan 9, 2015, Dr. Dong implanted the Boston keratoprosthesis, purchased with financial support from the Dreiseszun Family Foundation, in Lien's right eye. Lien vision improved signifincantly following surgery, currently measuring 20/70. "For people, nothing is more precious than independence. I lost my independence since I had the burn accidents. Thank you to doctors in corneal department, for now I found back my independence."
Dung is a 21 year old man from Bac Giang, Vietnam who sustained an alkaline chemical injury to both eyes at age 9, resulting in significant inflammation and scarring of both corneas. After the accident, his vision was reduced to the level of only seeing the movements of a hand, and thus he could no longer read. Therefore, Dung had no choice but to drop out of school.
Given the severity of the chemical injury, Dung was advised that he was not a candidate for a traditional corneal transplant. However, in July 2013, Dung's ophthalmologist, Dr. Pham Ngoc Dong, Chief, Dept. of Corneal and External Diseases at Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology, attended a course conducted by Dr. Anthony Aldave at the Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital in Saigon, Vietnam on the Boston type I keratoprosthesis (artificial corneal transplant). After consulting with Dr. Aldave, Dr. Dong determined that Dung was a candidate for artificial corneal transplantation. After the Boston type I keratoprosthesis was purchased with financial support from the Dreiseszun Family Foundation, Dr. Dong implanted the Boston I keratoprosthesis in Dung's right eye on July 24, 2015. Just one week after surgery, Dung's vision improved dramatically. Now able to read 20/80 on the eye chart, Dung states "I can see better and better each day. Now I can see very far and can read."
Musa is a 19-year-old young man from Ethiopia who developed significant inflammation and scarring of both corneas at age 11. Although Musa was able to complete the 5th grade, progressive loss of vision left him unable to continue his studies, and thus he could no longer continue to attend school. He was brought to see Dr. Roberto Pineda during a trip that Dr. Pineda made to the Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2011. At the time, Musa's vision was limited to the perception of light only in the right eye and hand movements in the left eye. Dr. Pineda determined that Musa was a candidate for a keratoprosthesis, and implanted a LUCIA keratoprosthesis in Musa's right eye on that trip. After surgery, Musa is able to read the eye chart again and continues to enjoy the sight that Dr. Pineda returned to him.
Gagik was a 46-year-old welder in Yerevan, Armenia who was injured in 1995 when a carbide cylinder that he was working with broke open and the gas severely burned his corneas. He underwent two corneal transplants at the Malayan Eye Center in Yerevan by the talented corneal specialists there, but due to the severity of the damage caused by the chemical injury to the surface of his eyes, his vision soon clouded over again following the surgeries. On his first trip to Armenia in June 2005 as a volunteer physician with the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP), Dr. Anthony Aldave demonstrated the technique of artificial corneal transplantation using the Boston keratoprosthesis to the Director of the Cornea Service at the Malayan Eye Center, Dr. Anna Hovakimyan. Hours later, under Dr. Aldave's guidance, she performed the second Boston keratoprosthesis implantation in Gagik's left eye. His vision improved to 20/50 after the surgery, allowing him to return to work and to see his wife and children again for the first time in many years. However, the vision was subsequently lost secondary to glaucoma, and Gagik's world returned to what it had been prior to surgery.
However, on a return visit to Armenia in June 2007 with other volunteer physicians associated with the AECP, Dr. Aldave assisted Dr. Hovakimyan in performing a Boston keratoprosthesis implantation in Gagik's right eye. The surgery was a success, with an improvement in Gagik's vision to 20/40 after surgery. Four years later, Gagik retains excellent vision in his right eye, and continues working, allowing him to provide for his family, which was the primary impetus for him to undergo the sight-restorative surgeries.
Mercina, a 73-year-old woman from Kolkata, India, was diagnosed with glaucoma almost 20 years ago, with progressively deteriorating vision. Although she underwent glaucoma surgery in both eyes, it was not soon enough to save the vision in her left eye, which progressed to complete, irreversible blindness in 1995. Due to declining vision in her right eye, she underwent cataract extraction in 1998, followed by corneal transplantation in 2002. Due to repeated corneal transplant failure, she underwent three corneal transplants in the right eye within a span of 4 years, as well as an additional glaucoma surgery. Unfortunately, the third corneal transplant remained clear for only 4 months, and she was advised that she was not a candidate for a repeat corneal transplant. Able only to see the movements of a hand close to her face, Mercina was destined to live the rest of her life without any useful vision.
Mercina was told of a new procedure called keratoprosthesis implantation, in which an artificial cornea is used to reestablish vision for those like herself whose vision could not be restored with a standard corneal transplant. She agreed to proceed with the surgery, which was to be the first keratoprosthesis implantation performed by her surgeon, Dr. Samar Basak. However, Dr. Radhika Tandon, a surgeon from Delhi trained to implant the Boston keratoprosthesis by Dr. Anthony Aldave, agreed to travel to Kolkata to assist Dr. Basak with his initial surgery. The surgery was performed in March 2009, and was a success in restoring vision to Mercina's right eye. She could once again read and see her daughter's face, and was no longer reliant on family members for assistance with her daily activities. Now, more than two years after surgery, she is maintaining 20/80 vision, and very grateful to both Drs. Basak and Dr. Tandon for helping to restore her vision.
Bhupati is a 64-year-old gentleman from Barrackpore, India who developed a serious systemic disease 10 years ago and subsequently experienced a significant loss of vision in both eyes. Although he recovered from the systemic illness two years later, his vision did not recover. The vision in his right eye remained no light perception, while in the left eye, he was light perception only, unable to see even a hand moving in front of his face, secondary to a growth of blood vessels into and severe scarring of the cornea. He was told that he was not a candidate for corneal transplantation because the blood vessels into the cornea meant that transplant rejection was likely. Thus, he underwent implantation of the Boston keratoprosthesis (artificial corneal transplant) in his left eye in July 2009 by Dr. Samar Basak, who learned the technique of Boston keratoprosthesis implantation from a surgeon in India who had been trained to perform keratoprosthesis implantation by Dr. Aldave. Bhupati regained 20/40 vision within 3 months after the surgery and for the first time could see the faces of his daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Six months after surgery, Bhupati developed glaucoma that decreased his vision to 20/60 and could not be controlled with medications alone. When his vision decreased further to 20/200, he underwent glaucoma surgery (one of the approximately 5% of patients who require glaucoma surgery after keratoprosthesis implantation) and his vision has since stabilized. Two years after surgery, Bhupati is very appreciative of the vision that he has and tells Dr. Basak that he is now a happy person who is able to sleep peacefully.