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We Pursue Eye Research

Corneal Transplants

Artificial Cornea

Surgery Room

Artificial cornea is an option for transplant patients who cannot tolerate a human donor cornea.  Dr. Price developed a modified technique to help minimize post-operation complications.
As reported in the Indianapolis Star, Dr. Francis W. Price, Jr. successfully performed the first artificial cornea transplant in Indiana on an 85 year-old male patient. Dr. Price is medical director of the Cornea Research Foundation of America and was the first Indiana surgeon to be accredited to implant the AlphaCor cornea, the first internationally approved artificial cornea implant. The device provides a viable alternative to patients who reject human cornea tissue transplants and have no other options to improve or regain vision.

It has been estimated that up to 10 million in the world people suffer corneal blindness. Only 100,000 corneal transplants are performed each year worldwide due to the lack of access to donor tissue, which has been described as an international crisis in public health. For more than 200 years, scientists have tried to create an artificial cornea. Corneal blindness may be caused by accidents or diseases damaging the front of the eye. When the rest of the eye functions fully, the cornea is the only part of the eye needed to restore sight.

“One of the advantages of an artificial cornea is that it can help restore vision in patients who are not good candidates for a living corneal transplant from a human donor,” said Dr. Price. “The success rate of corneal transplants has increased markedly over the last 40 years, but there are some situations where human donor transplants don’t work. An artificial cornea fills this void. The device is a huge step forward for people with corneal blindness who have rejected human tissue or who live in areas where corneal tissue is not readily available.”

Artificial corneas, sometimes called a keratoprosthesis (K-pro), have been used for over 50 years. However, it has only been within the last few years that these devices have become reliably successful. For most patients, human donor tissue still provides the best results. But in patients who are at high risk for failure with a human donor, a keratoprosthesis can provide excellent visual results with a good risk-to-benefit ratio. Some indications for K-pros include:

  • Multiple previous graft failures
  • Severe ocular surface disease, such as after chemical burns, Stevens Johnson syndrome, limbal stem cell deficiency, congenital aniridia, or severe dry eyes.

Currently, we recommend the Boston keratoprosthesis for patients who need an artificial cornea.

  1. Price FW, Price, MO. Adult keratoplasty: has the prognosis improved in the last 25 years? Ophthalmology International, 2008; 28:141-146. Read Story
  2. Ngakeng V, Hauck MJ, Price MO, Price FW. AlphaCor keratoprosthesis: a novel approach to minimize the risks of long-term postoperative complications. Cornea 2008;27:905-910.