K39 -- September 2010 -- Keratoprosthesis
Intro: Imagine a life of darkness. A life without sight. That was reality for the woman you're about to meet. She lost her vision more than 30 years ago; the result of a severe allergic reaction to medications. Repeated attempts to restore her vision with human corneal transplants failed. Then she went to Mayo Clinic, where doctors performed a very rare and complex operation.
Jenny Peterson's guitar helped guide her through the dark after a reaction to antibiotics took most of her sight. [music] Through failed operations — attempts to restore her vision.
"I'd grab my guitar, and I'd go in my bedroom, and I'd really just beat on it. Until before I knew it, I was back singing praise songs."
Even through a diagnosis of malignant melanoma in her left eye, which had to be removed. Over the years, sight in her remaining eye dimmed.
"Some days I couldn't even tell where the windows were in the house."
But then, her doctor at Mayo Clinic told her there was a chance they could restore sight in her one eye with what's called a keratoprosthesis.
"Keratoprosthesis is a device we use for patients who require a corneal transplant. In other words, replacement of the clear window in the front of the eye."
Dr. Keith Baratz and his team performed the complicated operation. First, they removed scar tissue that formed years ago after her allergic reaction. Then, he removed the damaged cornea. Next, they placed a valve to reduce pressure, removed a cataract and implanted a prosthetic cornea. No one knew exactly what Jenny would be able to see when Dr. Baratz revealed her eye after surgery.
"I said, 'You have yellow stripes on your tie.' "
After seeing those yellow stripes, for the first time in three decades, Jenny saw the faces of the people she loves."
"What a blessing … it was overwhelming … a million dollars does not buy what we have."
She once was blind, but now Jenny sees.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Keratoprosthesis is only used for patients who have had unsuccessful human corneal transplants or for whom such transplants are doomed to fail.
This operation is very rare and surgery requires a high level of expertise.
Jenny's sight now is about 20/40. She says every day she is thankful for the treatment she received — the gift of sight after decades of blindness.
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