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Author: Laser Eye

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Kenyan woman blinded at 17 regains eyesight using stem cell technology

At the age of 17, Susan Muthoni had normal 20/20 vision. Like most people with perfect eyesight, the then high school student never imagined she would one day have a problem. In 2013, less than a week before she sat her KCSE exams, she had an accident in the laboratory, one that involved chemicals spilling into her eyes, burning them severely. Special glasses She was able to write her exams using special eyesight-enhancing glasses, which boosted the vision of her left eye. While her left eye was able to see partially, her right eye went completely blind. “I went to Kikuyu Eye Hospital but the doctors said there was not much they could do except give me the enhancing glasses,” Muthoni told The Standard during an interview a day after she underwent a groundbreaking surgery last week. Now aged 23, Muthoni said the loss of her sight greatly diminished her ability to properly write the exams and consequently affected her performance. Even in the years after the accident, as a purchasing student at the University of Nairobi, Muthoni had to sit at the front of the class. But even then, she could only see blurred images. Muthoni’s quest to regain her sight has been complicated, expensive and agonising. Just when she had resolved to travel to India, her last resort, a family friend recommended that she try Laser Eye Centre, a clinic in Westlands, Nairobi. The odds changed for Muthoni forever. Not only will she be able to see again, but with the procedure that restored her sight, the young woman made history as the first recipient of a stem cell transplant of the eye, not just in Kenya but East Africa. The stem cell transplant conducted last Monday involved a team of four specialists led by Mukesh Joshi and lasted just under three hours. “It was smooth but technically challenging,” Dr Joshi admitted. According to the specialist, Muthoni’s blindness was a result of chemical injury to the eye. The doctor further said that not many treatments were available for Muthoni’s condition. The other option, Joshi said, would have been a corneal implant, which would most likely have been ineffective at fully restoring her sight. “For a cornea with stem cell deficiency, a corneal transplant will fail. A stem cell transplant, on the other hand, increases the chances of recovery of the cornea as stem cells will start giving nutrition to the superficial layer of the cornea since the cornea does not have blood supply. With improved nutrition, the cornea will start becoming clear once the new transplanted stem cells start repopulating,” said Joshi. He explained the procedure of a stem cell transplant of the eye. “We took healthy stem cells from Muthoni’s left eye and transplanted them into the right one. “Stem cell transplant has been in vogue in the past few years. It requires a very specialised membrane, known as the amniotic membrane, which is found in the placenta. This membrane is required to cover the damaged cornea to allow stem cells to grow, as stem cells will not grow on the cornea on its Read more Kenyan woman blinded at 17 regains eyesight using stem cell technology

Liberated from a life of glasses: How laser surgery changes lives

The envoy had travelled there for the traditional Lasik surgery so he could see without glasses or contacts lens. But ophthalmologists said his cornea was too thin and nothing could be done. His situation was salvaged in Nairobi, which is now becoming a centre of advanced medical practice. “I met Dr Joshi and was told about the new technology, C-ten, no touch, no cut,” he says. The envoy completed the necessary assessments, after which Dr Joshi Mukesh informed him he was a perfect candidate for C-ten. Dr Joshi is a leading ophthalmologist, who runs Africa’s only C-ten services at his clinic at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi. “After my laser correction, I have got perfect eyesight; I can see better than I could with my contact lenses,” he said in a testimonial.   WOES OF GLASS WEARERS Pitteloud’s frustrations with sight would probably only be understood by people who wear glasses. While wearing glasses can be fashionable, they are first and foremost medical devices. That is why, despite going through most of their day wearing them, many glass wearers picture themselves as having perfect 20/20 vision when constructing their self-image in their mind. When taking a group photo, some even take their glasses off, because their self-perception is as a non-glass wearer. Being forced to carry around a flimsy piece of vital equipment changes your life. “Literally your world is framed and it’s narrower,” says Imre Makaka, 25-year-old third-year Bcom student at the University of Nairobi. He is shortsighted and was on glasses for 20 years. “If you need to look to the side, you have to turn your whole head, rather than turning the eye itself, like other people. He says there is no spontaneity in life. “You cannot take part in a fight or random game with your glasses on. You’re also cautious during shoulder-bump greeting. It makes people think you’re weak.” Makaka was liberated from glasses after a C-ten laser surgery two weeks ago. “I was told about C-ten by my mother, then I checked the credentials of the doctor. Of course it was more costly, but I used to spend close to Sh50,000 every month for check-ups and glasses,” he says. More Kenyans who can afford are now making this step. HOW IT WORKS Dr Joshi has been a consultant ophthalmologist for 25 years, and is easily one of the most experienced and respected laser eye surgeons on the continent. The surgery took 30 seconds for each eye. Dr Joshi explains that C-ten uses the latest technology, where there is no contact with the patient’s eye. “The procedure is the safest and fastest treatment available with minimal recovery time,” he says. “It is very important for you to come in for an assessment, as not everyone who wears glasses or contact lenses is a suitable candidate for Laser Vision Correction.” Makaka’s assessment took about an hour. He placed his chin on the front end of a Modern Tomography Precisio machine, which provides a detailed, three-dimensional mapping of corneal inner and outer surface. The machine takes about 39,000 spots of the eye and defines the real shape of the cornea’s anterior and Read more Liberated from a life of glasses: How laser surgery changes lives