A UW eye surgeon performed the Pacific Northwest's first artificial cornea implant June 9 at UW Medical Center-Roosevelt.
Tueng Shen, assistant professor of ophthalmology and director of the UWMC Refractive Surgery Center, performed the procedure on the patient, Joe Vallejo of Moses Lake, Wash. Vallejo suffered cornea damage during an on-the-job accident, and had undergone several unsuccessful cornea transplants with donor tissue.
Shen implanted a plastic keratoprosthesis, which was developed at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston to restore the vision of a patient with a severely damaged cornea. Before the surgery, Vallejo could see changes in room light. After the surgery, his vision improved enough that he could see hand motion. Further diagnosis is required to determine if other parts of his eye, such as the retina or the optic nerve, are damaged and will also need to be surgically repaired.
Shen hopes that the UW will become a referral site for patients in the Pacific Northwest who need artificial cornea implants. The procedure is most effective with patients whose eye damage is limited to the cornea, Shen said.
The Refractive Surgery Center uses such methods as laser surgery and computerized corneal topography to treat vision disorders, and is also a research site for advancing the field of refractive surgery. Shen, who joined the UW faculty in 2003, specializes in refractive surgery, medical and surgical management of corneal disorders, and cataract surgeries.