Ook Surgery

Unusual operation restores man's sight using his tooth

Oct. 9, 2013
Procedure is called Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis

It's been 16 years since Ian Tibbetts lost his sight in a freak accident to some flying scrap metal. His patience recently paid off, and he was able to see his 4-year-old twins for the first time, thanks to an operation that restored his sight with the use of his tooth called Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis.

In the procedure, performed by Christopher Liu at the Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton, U.K., the surgeon inserts the lens into a hole drilled through the tooth, which is implanted in the eye.

According to an article on gmanetwork.com, "Patients who have the surgery are often able to see immediately and the quality of sight can be extraordinarily good. However it is only suitable for certain types of blindness, specifically patients who have severe and irreversible corneal damage," Dr. Liu said.

As for Tibbetts, "I have my independence back now and I can start looking after the kids while my wife is out at work. Before, the kids were just shapes. I couldn't make them out. I had to actually learn to tell them apart by their voices... I would do anything to get some sight back. I had to try something."

According to Wikepedia, osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (OOKP) (also known as "tooth in eye" surgery) is a medical procedure to restore vision in the most severe cases of corneal and ocular surface patients. It includes removal of a tooth from the patient or a donor. After this, a lamina of tissue cut from the tooth is drilled and the hole is fitted with optics. The lamina is grown in the patients' cheek for a period of months and then is implanted upon the eye.

The procedure was pioneered by the Italian ophthalmic surgeon Professor Benedetto Strampelli in Rome in the early 1960s. Though Wikipedia does not report how many of the surgeries have been performed, it does report that "a long-term study of 181 patients puts the chances of retaining an intact OOKP after 18 years at 85%."

Here is a visual explanation of the surgery as found on forums.military.com.