Doctors in Israel used an experimental artificial cornea to restore a 78-year-old man's sight last week.
Dr. Irit Bahar, the head of the ophthalmology department at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, did the hour-long procedure, which allowed the patient to see again after 10 years.
Not only was the man able to recognize his family members, he was able to read text off a chart.
"The moment we took off the bandages was emotional and significant," said Bahar. "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."
The innovative device used in the procedure was created last year by Israeli startup CorNeat. Called the "KPro," the artificial cornea uses a synthetic nano-tissue that is placed underneath the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the surface of the eyelid and the whites of the eye.
Those who go blind from cornea issues suffer from problems with opacity and the eye wall.
While doctors can repair corneas with donor tissue or corneas sourced from pigs, this solution removes massive logistical and supply issues associated with such measures. It also removes the risk of immune and disease issues associated with transplants.
Ultimately, the artificial cornea will make access to treatment available to millions of blind individuals around the world.
Dr. Gilad Litvin, the inventor of the CorNeat KPro, said being in the room when the patient opened his eyes was "surreal."
"Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal. 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. This is an extremely important milestone for CorNeat Vision, key in our journey to enable people around the world to fully enjoy their vision potential. I am grateful and honored to work with an outstanding group of people whose hard work, diligence and creativity, made this moment possible."