Glue may seal new eye treatment

Westmead Hospital’s ophthalmology cornea specialist Dr Chameen Samarawickrama.

A glue being developed by a Westmead Hospital eye surgeon is expected to revolutionise the treatment of damaged corneas.

The aim will be to eliminate the need for a transplant or lifelong care.

A corneal perforation is a painful and serious condition that can result in blindness when the surface of the eye has been penetrated.

It is often caused by an infection due to dirty contact lenses, or workplace accidents.

The current product used to repair corneal perforations leads to the need for a corneal transplant to improve vision in about 90 per cent of patients.

That is why Westmead Hospital’s ophthalmology cornea specialist Dr Chameen Samarawickrama has his sights set on developing a non-toxic glue that will do the same job without the side effects.

Dr Samarawickrama said the glue would have a significant impact on patients.

“The current method of repair is to use a glue that seals the eye but causes a lot of scarring and blood vessel growth into the eye,” Dr Samarawickrama said.

“The patient needs a corneal transplant to improve vision.”

As with any transplant, they then need to take lifelong anti-rejection medications.

“The eye becomes weaker and patients can end up with rejection of the new cornea,” he said

“A high proportion of patients with a corneal transplant can’t see unless they wear a hard contact lens.”

Dr Samarawickrama found that the collagen corneal glue does not cloud the cornea and blood vessels do not grow inward.

Preliminary research is currently underway and if testing returns positive results it will lead to clinical trials on volunteers in the Department of Ophthalmology at Westmead Hospital.

This clinical trial will be supported by the Research and Education Network.