Artificial corneas come to Israel

First implants of their kind are implanted in patients at Rabin Medical Center; synthetics used when human transplants are rejected.

DOCTORS AT Kaplan Hospital 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
DOCTORS AT Kaplan Hospital 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Four artificial corneas were recently implanted successfully into the eyes of patients for whom a donor cornea did not work, according to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. They were the first implants of their kind in Israel. Dr. Irit Bechar, head of the cornea service, says that using a synthetic eye covering is not the first choice, as natural ones are better, but sometimes they are necessary because a human transplant was rejected by the recipient’s eye or otherwise failed.
An article in a recent issue of the hospital's Rabin Magazine noted that the implant is very similar to the human cornea transplant. The synthetic piece is made of acrylic material to which the body does not develop rejection, but there is a higher risk of infection, thus patients receive prophylactic antibiotic treatment. The surgery takes about 90 minutes under general anesthesia.
But when it works well, it can prevent or treat blindness. Prof. Dov Weinberger, director of ophthalmology at the medical center, said the implant is “a pioneering Israeli medical achievement that puts Rabin in the ranks of leading hospitals in the world.” Several thousand such implants have been carried out in the Western world so far. Bechar studied the technique and the material in Boston with a group of researchers who have been developing the implant for 30 years.
KIRYAT SHMONA GETS PERMANENT TRAUMA CENTER For more than 30 years, the Community Stress Prevention Center (CSPC) in Kiryat Shmona has worked on local, national and international levels to help individuals and communities cope with the trauma that follows crises and disasters. The facility recently moved out and, with support from UJA-Federation of New York, has opened a new, permanent training and treatment facility. “Despite the respect and achievements we have accomplished, we were always guests in someone else’s place,” said CSPC founder and director Prof. Mooli Lahad, an internationally recognized expert in trauma care. “The dream to have a building with facilities to treat children and adults, a library to run seminars and conduct research, space to accommodate training for scholars and practitioners from Israel and abroad has finally come true.”
To date, the CSPC has trained thousands of professionals here and abroad in various techniques that develop individual, family, and community skills for coping with emergencies. These include victims in Turkey after the 1999 earthquake; New York after the events of 9/11; Beslan, Russia, following the terrible school massacre of 2004; the Far East following the tsunami of 2004; Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the opening,” said Alisa Rubin Kurshan, senior vice president for strategic planning and organizational resources at UJA Federation. “Our support is based on the knowledge that the CSPC is truly making a difference in the lives of those who suffer from posttraumatic stress, helping to foster the resiliency of the human spirit in Israel and around the world.”
“Sleep on It” is sound, science-based advice, according to University of Massachusetts at Amherst psychologist Rebecca Spencer and colleagues, who suggest another key effect of sleep is facilitating and enhancing complex cognitive skills such as decision-making.
In recent years, much sleep research has focused on memory, but now results of a new study by Spencer and her team suggest another key effect of sleep is enhancing complex cognitive skills such as decision-making. In one of the first studies of its kind, they investigated the effects of sleep on “affect-guided” decision-making, which involves topics in which subjects care about the outcome. A group of 54 young adults were taught to play a card game for rewards of play money in which wins and losses for various card decks mimic casino gambling.
Subjects who had a normal night’s sleep as part of the study drew from decks that gave them the greatest winnings four times more often than those who spent the 12-hour break awake, and they better understood the underlying rules of the game. Psychologists believe rule discovery is an often hidden yet key factor that is crucial to making sound decisions.
“This provides support for what Mom and Dad have always advised,” says Spencer. “There is something to be gained from taking a night to sleep on it when you’re facing an important decision. We found that the fact that you slept makes your decisions better.” Results appeared in the Journal of Sleep Research.