Sight returns to the blind with first-ever artificial cornea transplant

The CorNeat KPro implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred, or opacified corneas.

Prof. Irit Bahar and Dr. Gilad Litvin with first-in-human KPro patient and his daughter (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prof. Irit Bahar and Dr. Gilad Litvin with first-in-human KPro patient and his daughter
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 A 78-year old blind man got his sight back with the implant of an artificial cornea, the first such operation in the world.

The artificial cornea, designed by Ra’anana-based CorNeat Vision, was implanted in a surgery performed at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. Upon removal of bandages, the patient was immediately able to read text and recognize family members, the company said.
“The surgical procedure was straightforward, and the result exceeded all of our expectations,” said Prof. Irit Bahar, director of the hospital’s ophthalmology department, who conducted the surgery.
“The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment,” she said. “Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors. We are proud of being at the forefront of this exciting and meaningful project, which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions.”
“Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal,” added Dr. Gilad Litvin, the co-founder of CorNeat Vision. “After years of hard work, seeing a colleague implant the CorNeat KPro with ease and witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving; there were a lot of tears in the room.”
The CorNeat KPro implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred or opacified corneas and is expected to fully and immediately rehabilitate the vision of corneally blind patients following a relatively simple implantation procedure. It is the first artificial cornea that completely integrates with the eye wall with no reliance on donor tissue, the company said.  



The surgery is the first of 10 that are approved for trial at Rabin Medical Center as part of a multinational clinical trial, geared toward attaining FDA and international approvals. Two additional sites are planned to open this January in Canada, and six others at different stages in the approval process in France, the US and the Netherlands.
"Our first trial includes blind patients who are not suitable candidates for, or have failed one or more, corneal transplantations,” said Almog Aley-Raz, CorNeat co-founder and CEO. “Given the exceptional visual performance of our device, the expected healing time and retention, and the fact that it cannot carry disease, we plan to initiate a second study later this year with broader indications to approve our artificial cornea as a first-line treatment.”