Loss of feeling in the cornea, or clear “window” of the eyeball, can be devastating. Without adequate sensory input from the eyeball, the blink reflex, tear production, and many other mechanisms for normal ocular health are adversely affected. This can lead to dry eyes, corneal abrasions or ulcerations, or even blindness.
This loss of feeling (called “corneal anesthesia”) can be caused by eye infections (for example, herpes virus), brain surgery, eye surgery, or congenital conditions. While the underlying condition may not be treatable, improving corneal sensation can restore normal protective functions to the eye and improve vision and quality of life.
How is surgery performed?
Corneal neurotization is a new procedure in which Dr. Ramesh will take a nerve graft from another area (leg, neck, or other site), and connect it to the affected eye to allow sensation in the cornea once again. As this is an exciting area of new research, there are only a handful of specialists in the world who are able to offer this procedure. Dr. Ramesh was the first surgeon on the West Coast to perform this surgery on patients.
Surgery is performed under general anesthesia and lasts 2.5 – 3 hours. Patients are able to go home after surgery, and may have light bruising around the eyes for 1 – 2 weeks. Patients can expect to regain sensation in the affected eye in 3 – 6 months after surgery, although this is variable depending on the patient and children may heal faster than adults. After corneal sensation is regained, other treatments such as refractive surgery, corneal transplant, or contact lens fitting may be given to further improve the vision.
Does insurance cover surgery?
Health insurance typically covers corneal neurotization. Please schedule a consultation so that we can comprehensively assess your eye and determine the best plan for you. We look forward to offering this exciting new procedure to help you with you or your child’s condition.