Totally blind, due to 2 different pathologies, he partially recovered his sight thanks to the autotransplantation of the entire ocular surface (cornea, part of the sclera and the conjunctiva) from one of his eyes.
The operation on an 83-year-old patient at the Molinette hospital in Turin is a world first.
The elderly man had lost sight in his left eye for 30 years due to irreversible retinal blindness and in the last 10 years he had gone blind in his right eye due to a rare disease.
The levy from the left eye, unrecoverable from a functional point of view, but with a good ocular surface, allowed him to see again.
The operation, which lasted four hours, was performed by a team led by Michele Reibaldi, director of the Molinette University Ophthalmology Clinic and expert retinal surgeon, and Vincenzo Sarnicola, president of the Italian Society of Cornea and Stemality.
"The real novelty - the doctors explain - consists in having enlarged the corneal transplant to the entire ocular surface, to the conjunctive-scleral tissues, which play a fundamental role in allowing the success of the transplant in particular conditions".
"Blind eyes with functional aspects should not be enucleated, i.e. sacrificed because they may be needed as spare parts. In the last 20 years the frontier of transplants has made great strides and Italy plays a leading role in the world"
explained Professor Sarnicola.
Two weeks after the operation, the 83-year-old patient is able to recognize people and objects and to move independently.
His left eye was reconstructed, for aesthetic purposes, with donor tissue.