DOCTORS CURE BLINDNESS WITH TOOTH TRANSPLANT
Dr Shannon Webber and Dr Greg Moloney have performed a trailblazing surgery to restore the eyesight in patients who have been blind for decades – using a tooth fitted with an optical cylinder that is transplanted and stitched into the front of the eye.
Their astonishing story, to be aired this week on 60 Minutes, has allowed two patients who have collectively been blind for 40 years – to see their families for the first time in decades. “As surgeons, we all want to change lives, and it was very special to be able to give someone the gift of sight back,” said Pindara Private Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr Shannon Webber who performed the procedure with Ophthalmologist Dr Greg Moloney, at the Sydney Eye Hospital recently. The multi-stage procedure, called Osteo-odonto- keratoprosthesis (OOKP) is used to restore the vision of those who are blind due to scarring of the cornea often from a burn, auto-immune disease or splash injury. Whilst the procedure has been performed for years overseas, Dr Webber and Dr Moloney revolutionised the operation by creating better blood supply to the eye, using the patient’s own scalp tissue – regarded as a world-first. “This hopefully will prevent the bone dissolving around the tooth, thus reducing the low failure rate of the surgery further,” says Dr Webber. “A few days after the surgery, both patients had excellent vision after being blind for decades. With the aid of some glasses, both were reading the newspaper and iPad with no assistance.” Ramsay Australia CEO Danny Sims said the surgery was a wonderful example of Doctors working together across specialties, electively creating “operating rooms of the future.”