Blind World Magazine

a new treatment for Keratoconus.

January 28, 2005.
News Channel 5, Tennessee.

Tens of thousands of patients who suffer from a congenital corneal blinding condition called keratoconus can now have a chance of sight restoration from a new breakthrough in eye surgery technology: Intacs corneal surgery, approved by FDA for Humanitarian Device Exemption on August 4 and was performed for the first time in the state using femtosecond laser by Dr. Ming Wang of Nashville, Tennessee, this new eye surgery is bringing hope of vision to these patients who up to now have been told that they have no chance of visual restoration if diseases progresses except risky corneal transplantation and potential life-long risk of graft rejection.

"We are so excited to be at the forefront of research and technology development of another breakthrough in eye technology in being able to bring this revolutionary eye technology to the state to enable our keratoconus patients to have a chance of vision restoration", Dr. Wang said, who is a director of Wang vision Institute and staff surgeon at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mr. Steve Howell, a 45 year old man from Sparks TN, has vision loss in both eyes and suffers from a congenital corneal weakening condition called pellucid marginal denegation, a disease similar to keratoconus. He had been under the care of many eye doctors over the years and has tried everything and failed. He was told by the doctors from major hospital and medical centers that there was no way to slow down or stop his disease progression and his vision would most likely get worse and worse until the "death sentence of the cornea", i.e., replacement of the entire cornea with a cornea from another person. Since the corneal transplantation is a risky procedure that can cause blindness due to infection or trauma and has a life-long risk of graft rejection afterwards, Steve has been living in fear and worry all of his life knowing that this devastating disease is relentlessly progressing and he will continue to lose vision.

Steve Howell became the first patient in the state to have the breakthrough eye surgery for keratoconus, femtosecond laser - Intacs procedure, at Wang Vision Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. The surgery went beautifully and Steve's vision has since improved. Most importantly, his disease progression was halted and he no longer lives in the fear of losing his vision due to a relentless and unstoppable disease progression.

"For the first time ever, we have a treatment that treats the root cause of the keratoconus disease. This breakthrough new technology brings exciting new hope of vision restoration for the hundreds of thousands of patients who suffer from this genetic corneal blinding condition which is one of the most common causes for 50,000 corneal transplantations in the US each year", Dr. Wang added.

Intacs are intracorneal ring segments manufactured by Addition Technology, Inc (Des Plaines, IL). The ring segments are placed in the corneal stromal to "tend" the cornea up to increase its strength. Intacs received FDA HDE approval for the treatment of keratoconus on August 4, 2004.

Combining Intacs technology with another high tech laser technology Intralase femtosecond laser represents a new approach to the treatment of keratoconus with Intacs, according to Dr. Wang. Femtosecond laser has been developed to perform elective eye surgery such as LASIK. However, its safety and precision in corneal tissue separation makes it an ideal tool for creating intra-corneal channels for Intacs ring segment placement. "We have been involved in research in the management of keratoconus for many years and are pleased to be the first in the state to offer this new eye surgery, femtosecond laser with Intacs, to our keratoconus patients", Dr. Wang added.

Dr. Wang received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School (magna cum laude) and is one of the few LASIK surgeons in the world today who holds a doctorate degree in laser physics. Wang Vision Institute is the site where many of the new eye surgery technologies are brought to the state, including bladeless LASIK, customVue wavefront surgery and CK radio wave for over-40 eyes. Dr. Wang is also a corneal specialist and has been at forefront of development of novel eye surgery research and technology to restore vision in terminally corneal blind patients. He recently performed the world's first combined procedure of laser-artificial cornea surgery and restored vision in a man who had been blind for 40 years. Dr. Wang's patients come from around the world to Nashville to have these new eye surgeries to have a chance to see again. He established a sight restoration foundation, The Wang Foundation for Sight Restoration, to help these patients pay for their travel and care while continue waiving his professional fees

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