Can a tooth actually restore sight?

Published 1:47 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dear Editor,

I saw an interesting story in a Mississippi newspaper recently. It was about a woman whose tooth helped her restore her vision.

Now, what would think if you lost your vision, and had it restored through a procedure that implanted a tooth in your eye? It is real. A woman from Mississippi lost her vision in 2000 to Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare condition that causes severe scarring of the cornea. Her name was Sharon “Kay” Thornton of Mississippi.

She was the first patient in the U.S. to have this procedure done. The doctor that did this surgery, and his team of surgeons, was Dr. Victor Perez of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Fla. The procedure was called “modified osteo-donto keratoprosthesis.”

Surgeons implanted Thornton’s eye tooth in her eye, as a base to hold a prosthetic lens. In the procedure, doctors remove a tooth, then shave it and sculpt it before implanting it.

A tooth is used because a patient’s body would reject any artificial base. Now, Thornton says she can see, although not perfectly. Images are still hazy. However, she said that when the sun’s shining, “I feel wonderful.” In Thornton’s case, her blindness was caused by scarring, which prevented light from entering her eyes.

The lens now brings light into the structure of her eyes, so she can see. She learned about this procedure by watching a story about it on TV, and she decided to go through with it and it made a difference in her life.

Cam you imaging restoring your eyesight from your eye tooth? I think it’s great, and I’m proud for her.

Barbara Sue Dennis