NYU Langone completes world's 1st whole eye transplant

New York City-based NYU Langone physicians successfully completed the world's first whole eye transplant for a survivor of a 7,200-volt electrical accident.

Typically, cases of eye surgery transplants are corneal transplants. A whole eye transplant involves replacing the entire eye, the socket including surrounding orbital bones, surrounding eye tissues and also the optic nerve, according to a Nov. 9 news release.

The procedure is extremely challenging and will not necessarily lead to a full-return of vision for the recipient. Since the area is close to many nerves it also poses certain risks. 

A team of more than 140 surgeons, nurses and supporting employees worked for 21 hours to complete the procedure for the 46-year-old patient. 

Since the procedure in May, his eye transplant shows signs of improved health, but he still cannot see from that eye. 

"What we’re witnessing now is not something we ever expected or thought we'd see," Vaidehi Dedania, MD, a retina specialist in the department of ophthalmology at NYU Langone stated in the news release. "The first step is having an intact eyeball, a lot of things could come after that; this is a first in the world, so we are really learning as we go."

In addition to the whole-eye procedure, NYU Langone physicians also successfully performed a partial face transplant for the patient.

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