Dr. Mark Gorovoy, an eye surgeon from south Fort Myers in Florida, is radically changing the way corneal transplants are being done around the world, while cutting down on healing time and reducing the risk of future visual injuries.
He is referred to as one of the top experts in the world on the procedure called deep lamellar endothelial keratoplasty, or DLEK.
Corneal transplant is traditionally done using penetrating keratoplasty where an entire donated cornea is sewn onto a patient's eye after the diseased cornea is removed.
"The problem with the procedure is it gives the patient a clear cornea, but the patient often doesn't see well because of the prolonged need for sutures. Often, they'll need contact lenses."
Additionally, since the cornea is sewn into place and there are sutures around the entire lens, any eye trauma even after several years results in a higher incidence of blindness.
For the last two years, Gorovoy has been slicing off the inside layer of the transplantable cornea, called the endothelium, by adapting and modifying equipment used in Lasik surgery. Instead of using sutures to hold the new cornea in place, Gorovoy pumps a small air bubble into the area, sealing the cornea in place. After a few days, the air bubbles are absorbed and the cornea heals into its new position. Sutures were used in the original incision area, not on the new cornea.
Gorovoy said patients see quickly and many don't need corrective lenses after the transplant.