Whole Eye transplants

All issues relating to enucleation surgery and follow-ups, including surgery preparation, post-surgery recovery, and follow-up examinations. Also covers medical problems related to surgery or loss of an eye, such as recurring headaches.

Whole Eye transplants

Unread post by Sprout_saint » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:53 pm

Hi Guys

I'm the father of a young lad who lost an eye at 2 due to retinoblastoma.

While on a visit to have his prosthetic changed we got talking to a guy from Malta who was convinced that Canada would be doing eye transplants in about 8 years?...i'm not sure how he got this information.

I read on the internet that they had performed the operation in Russia but that was unconfirmed.

Does anyone know if this will be a serious reality in a few years?, even if it is purely for cosmetic reasons?


Unread post by Guest » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:37 pm

It it was purely for cosmetic reasons, it would be very pointless as the prosthetic has has the appearance of a "Real" eye and it is usually very hard to tell.

As for eye transplants...while they have successfully transplanted body parts, and more recently, a face, it is, to my knowlege, impossible of yet to transplant an eye.

The nerve endings and muscles connecting the back of the eye to the sock are so complex and vast that it is impossible to "connect" and could most probably be rejected by the body and thus, giving way to an infection, which as you may know, could very well possibly spread to the other eye, risking that vision.

Even if it was possible to successfully "transplant" an eye, the chances of actual site would be minimal, so even the "cosmetic" reasons would not benefit any more than a prosthetic eye.

What kind of implant does your son have? I don't know if you have heard of the coral eye implant? It's a type of implant with tiny little holes throughout, resembling a "coral", in which muscles and blood vessels grow into within time, allowing the eye to move in sync with the other eye. Perhaps that is what you meany by "cosmetic" appearance- the movement of the eye?

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Unread post by fairie16 » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:38 pm

Blech. That was me ^^^ Forgot to log in 8)


Is a whole eye transplant possible?
The optic nerve, which sends visual signals from the eye to the brain, consists of about one million fibers. Because transplanting a whole eye would require that the optic nerve be cut and then reattached, scientists do not expect that this type of procedure will be possible. Researchers are focusing on how to regenerate damaged optic nerves and how to replace damaged retinal cells with healthy transplants. However, this work is in its early stages and it may be many years before there are any findings that could be used to restore vision in humans.


"Eyes can be transplanted"

False. It is not possible to transplant a whole eye. The eye is connected to the brain by a small nerve called the optic nerve. If this nerve is cut it cannot be reconnected, making it impossible to remove the eye and replace it with another one. The cornea, the clear covering on the front part of the eye, has been successfully transplanted for many years. Some people incorrectly confuse a cornea transplant with an eye transplant.
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Unread post by Ya'ara » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:56 am

fairie16 wrote: Some people incorrectly confuse a cornea transplant with an eye transplant.

And movies like "Minority Report" don't help. "Yeah but Tom Cruise got both his eyes replaced in that one Spielberg movie..." :roll:



Unread post by Guest » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:12 am

I think it is premature for the medical community or anybody else, for that matter, to say it is "impossible". We simply don't know enough to say anything one way or another. Evidence in this area is anecdotal at best.

It wasn't 10 years ago that we thought that mammalian optic nerve tissue couldn't be regenerated but we now know that it is possible.

This is still long way from complete eye transplants but my point is that medicine along with technology is constantly evolving, correcting itself and proving prior "assumptions" wrong.

As for the technical difficulties facing reconnecting the nerve fibers to the retina: I don't think we will be trying to reattach every little fiber by hand, this would be a daunting surgical task, and will probably be achieved through some bio-engineered process instead. For example using a bio-matrix scaffold infused with growth agonists that could act as a bridge between the severed optic nerve and the eye, allowing the nerve fibers to grow up the scaffold and reconnect on their own. So, in effect you are using the body’s own process and road map to do the work for you.


Unread post by Marmalade » Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:44 am

Anonymous wrote:It it was purely for cosmetic reasons, it would be very pointless as the prosthetic has has the appearance of a "Real" eye and it is usually very hard to tell.
Mine doesn't. Post-enucleation socket syndrome is very real. Transplantation sounds a good alternative to me but it would be difficult to match the colour :wink:

I don't know if you have heard of the coral eye implant? It's a type of implant with tiny little holes throughout, resembling a "coral"

It doesn't resemble coral, it *is* coral. :D


Unread post by soft_whisperss » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:06 am

I only wished my prosthetic looked like a real eye! Don't get me wrong, my prosthetic is about as close as one can be to a real eye, but with limited movement. I don't believe anybody can make one look so real that it is undetectable.

But on another note, wouldn't it be great if a real eye could be transplanted, and a contact lens could be painted to match our real eye!! It wouldn't bother me if I couldn't see out of the implant so long as the color and movement matched my real eye. That would be a dream come true for all of us.

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Unread post by rukus » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:31 am

i know right now that even though docs can do ensation/muscular nerve transplants, they cannot do optics.

i have a buckled optic nerve (perfectly healthy eye otherwise), and have had nerve transplants in my arm.
ive asked my opthamologist and plastics (he did my arm) surgeons numerous time to even see if its even done. ive even offered to be a study if they ever go there.

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Unread post by Sprout_saint » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:20 pm

Thanks guys for your opinions, I thought this guy was being a bit optimistic!..the other thing I thought that would make a prosthetic match the other eye better would be some kind of pupil that reacted in size depending on the light?...ok eye transplants may be way off but surely that would be possible?

As Regards coral implants, we have been advised against them from the surgeon (I won't name him but he is one the leading experts in the world at Moorefield’s hospital in London so you might have guessed!) who said they are very prone to infection. Having said that my son as a normal prosthetic and seems to suffer quite a lot of infection and has a green pus that comes from the eye quite regularly for which he seems to always be on antibiotics to clear it up.

Anyway this forum has been a great source of strength for me after what my son suffered and I am glad to have found this forum and for all you guys who are a great source of support to each other.