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Sharron Kay Thornton talks with her lead surgeon Victor Perez who restored sight to her left eye.

Doctors in Miami announced Wednesday that they had performed a vision-restoring surgery that used the 60-year-old patient’s tooth.The surgery, the first in the USA, was performed Labor Day weekend at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Afterward, patient Sharron Thornton was able to see for the first time in nine years. “Sharron was able to see 20/60 this morning. She was seeing only shadows a couple of weeks ago,” says ophthalmologist and surgeon Victor Perez.

 

Thornton was blinded in 2000 by a reaction to a drug she was taking, which damaged her cornea. Perez likened Thornton’s cornea to a dirty car windshield. He says her eye surface was too dry for a corneal implant, a standard treatment.

Thornton’s eye tooth and part of her jaw bone were removed, then sculpted to create a hole in the tooth through which a optical cylinder lens fit. The tooth acts as a base to hold the lens.

The prosthesis was then placed in a pouch just under the skin of Thornton’s cheek, where it would remain for several months to allow for the growth of a living capsule around it.

To surgically implant the tooth-lens prosthesis, a hole was made in the cornea and the capsule embedded over the top of the cornea. The mucous membrane was then pulled back over the eye like a blanket and a hole made for the lens.

“It’s a pretty radical operation and can be disfiguring,” says James Chodosh, a faculty member at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. But he says the results are worth it to patients.

Thornton says being able to see again is “like Christmas.”

Via USA Today