A new technique which greatly raises a baby’s chances of a successful eye transplant is being used by doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Previously, doctors have avoided surgery on babies’ eyes because they have been unable to see into the baby’s eye and, without knowing the full extent of the problem, they run the risk of causing further damage.
But the technique used by eye specialist Mr Ken Nischal uses high-frequency ultrasound which enables doctors to see into the eye and identify both the severity of the problem and the best approach for surgery.
Cornea transplants are performed on babies who are born with an opaque cornea, meaning that they would have very poor sight or none at all. The surgery must be performed very soon after birth in order for the brain to ‘learn’ to see properly.
By allowing the doctors to assess which babies would benefit from surgery and which would not, the new technique greatly improves the chances of a successful operation and reduces the chances of a transplant being rejected.
“It allows me to decide which children will fare best from surgery, whereas before we may have done 40 operations, for instance, and had 30 failures,” said Mr Nischal.