In New York, surgeons at NYU Langone Health have successfully performed the world's first whole-eye transplant on Aaron James, a 46-year-old military veteran from Arkansas.
Even though he didn’t regain his eyesight, his transplanted eye has shown promising signs of improvement since the transplant. This is a remarkable achievement in medical history, and it creates opportunities for advancements in eye transplantation and vision improvement.
Aaron James, a 46-year-old military veteran from Arkansas, was injured on the left side of his face, including his left eye, nose, and mouth, due to a high-voltage electrical accident in his workplace. Aaron James underwent a 21-hour surgery to replace his missing eye and support his eyesocket and eyelids to enhance his esthetic appearance. During the six months following his surgery, while monitoring his health postoperatively, the surgical team noticed positive signs of improvement in his eye transplant.
This surgery is a significant milestone in eye surgery because previously, only the clear front layer of the eye, called the cornea, could be transplanted. This is the first time that the entire eye, including the optic nerve which links the eye and the brain, has been transplanted. The stem cells are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow and injected into the damaged optic nerve to promote healing. Although James has not yet regained his eyesight, his grafted eye shows improvements, such as blood flow in the transplanted eye, and his retina looks promising.
According to Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, the chief of plastic surgery at NYU and the lead surgeon, they are not claiming to restore sight. However, he believes they are progressing and are now one step closer.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Goldberg, who is the head of the ophthalmology department at Stanford University, the surgery is a remarkable confirmation of animal experiments that have allowed transplanted eyes to remain viable.
Aaron James expressed his hope that others might learn something from his experience to aid the next individual, even if he could not see. He further hoped that his situation would pave the way for a new perspective.
James’s eye transplant surgery is an opportunity to upgrade the treatment options. While regrowing an optic nerve is difficult, progress is being made in animal studies, as stated by Dr. Goldberg. This surgery will bring hope to people who have lost their sight due to accidents or medical conditions, as eye transplant surgeries could be a potential solution.
(Input from various media sources)