February 26, 2004.
Dubai,United Arab Emirates.
SINGAPORE - A blind Thai teenager is undergoing an operation in Singapore that involves implanting parts of his tooth and jaw into his right eye in an attempt to regain his sight, media reports said on Thursday.
Doctors have completed the first stage of the two-part operation on 19-year-old Luck Pewnual, who became blind six years ago from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare and severe allergic reaction, the Straits Times reported.
The first stage of the operation, performed by doctors from the Singapore Eye Centre and National Dental Centre on Saturday, lasted six hours and involved removing Pewnual’s canine tooth as well as bone and ligaments from his jaw.
These were then shaped into a cube with a hole drilled in the centre, into which a plastic cylinder was inserted to channel light onto the retina to enable sight. The cube was then buried in Pewnual’s left cheek so that it would grow blood vessels.
The second stage of the operation will be performed in June and involves removing the cube and setting it into his right eye to create an artificial cornea after part of his original cornea, iris and lens is removed.
If successful, Pewnual would be able to see almost immediately.
The tooth-in-eye technique, pioneered in Italy 40 years ago, is considered a last resort for patients with severe cornea damage and for whom conventional cornea transplants will not work.
His mother Apipa Pewnual told the paper he had gone blind after developing an allergic reaction to an acne medication.
The operation is expected to cost 15,000 Singapore dollars (8,928 US).
End of article.
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