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Research Update: A New Technique to Repair Damaged Corneas

Researchers from the University of Ottawa (Canada) have developed a substance that can help to reshape and thicken damaged corneal tissue, which can promote its healing and recovery.  The cornea, the domed, transparent part of the eye covering the iris and the pupil, allows light to enter the inside and is “responsible for two-thirds of the eye’s focusing power.” As the population of older adults increases, the incidence of thinning of corneas is also rising. Corneal diseases can result in vision loss or blindness. Current treatment generally involves transplants to treat disorders that result in thinning corneas, such as keratoconus, a “poorly understood eye disease that results in loss of vision for many people.” Millions of people around the world experience corneal diseases and only a small percentage are eligible for transplantation. The research study involved developing “light-activated injectable biomaterials with a range of properties that could be fine-tuned to resemble the human cornea,” which potentially could be used “as bulking agents for thinning corneas.” The process is guided by biomimetic design, or “innovation inspired by nature.” Study results demonstrated that a new material, activated by light, could bring about a “plausible alternative to corneal transplantation for future treatment of corneal disorders.” Read more details in the news release about the Healing power of light: uOttawa team advances clear vision for eye repair as well as the article in Interesting Engineering describing how Low-energy blue light-activated biomaterial can repair damaged corneas. For the full research report, visit the Wiley Online Library webpage entitled Low Energy Blue Pulsed  Light-Activated Injectable Materials for Restoring Thinning Corneas.