Rare Artificial Cornea Transplant Restores Local Man’s Vision

Dr. Medhi Ghajar Only Fresno-area Surgeon to Perform This Type of Transplant

Fresno, CA (July 12, 2016)Dr. Medhi Ghajar, an ophthalmic surgeon at Fresno Surgical Hospital, recently performed a rare artificial cornea transplant to help a local man restore vision in his right eye. This is only the fourth artificial cornea transplant to be conducted by Dr. Ghajar, who is the sole surgeon to offer this procedure to local patients.

Prior to the transplant, the patient had almost no vision in his right eye, what Dr. Ghajar describes as hand-motion vision. Just a month after the surgery the patient’s vision is 20/40, with a minimal prescription. Dr. Ghajar says it is unique that the patient’s vision improved so quickly, noting that 20/40 vision is acceptable for driving, even if this was the patient’s only usable eye.

History of Vision Loss and Pain

The patient’s eye problems began in November, 2010. He woke up one morning and noticed what appeared to be a cut on his cornea. Then, when sunlight hit his eye, the patient experienced significant pain that increased throughout the day. After an initial diagnosis of a scratched cornea, the eye continued to worsen. The patient’s ophthalmologist referred him to Dr. Ghajar.

Dr. Ghajar found the patient’s right eye had a severe cornea ulcer, which was advancing and spreading to his sclera. At the time, the source of the ulcer was unknown – there had been no eye trauma and the patient did not wear contact lenses, both typical causes of ulcerations.

Further testing discovered the patient was diabetic. Because the patient’s glucose levels were out of control, a fungal ulcer had developed and was quickly worsening. The cornea was beginning to melt. Therefore, Dr. Ghajar performed an emergency cornea transplant over Thanksgiving weekend in 2010.

The transplant was very large, which required Dr. Ghajar to cut out some of the patient’s natural stem cells. Despite that, the patient recovered nicely and was seeing very well, even after a subsequent cataract surgery. What’s more, by identifying diabetes as the cause of the eye problem, Dr. Ghajar helped the patient avoid other potentially serious health issues, such as kidney failure.

After years of relief, the patient awoke in December, 2015, to realize the vision in his right eye was completely foggy and he was unable to distinguish faces or shapes. Without vision in his right eye, the patient was unable to carry out his full work duties as a team leader security guard.

Artificial Transplant Offers Hope

Once again, the patient sought Dr. Ghajar’s help.

Because the original transplant required the natural stem cells to be removed, the patient’s body was attacking the transplanted cornea. An ulceration had developed on the transplanted cornea.

Dr. Ghajar determined that an artificial cornea transplant was the only option for long-term vision rehabilitation. Without natural stem cells in his eye, the patient would otherwise suffer with repeated ulcerations and infections. Additionally, an artificial cornea will never cloud over like a normal cornea transplant. This is because the center of the transplant is a plastic optic, perfectly smooth and circular, which also prevents any significant astigmatism like a normal cornea transplant.

In May, Dr. Ghajar did a combined surgery with Dr. Sumeer Thinda, who performed a vitrectomy to prevent progression of any diabetic retinopathy and reduce the risk of infection.  During the procedure, the surgeons used highly-advanced surgical technology. In recent years, Fresno Surgical Hospital has invested $1.3 million in ophthalmology surgical technology.

Dr. Ghajar will evaluate the patient monthly to ensure the eye is healing properly. The patient will have to wear a contact lens and use prophylactic antibiotics for the rest of his life. However, Dr. Ghajar expects the patient to be able to resume normal activity. In fact, the patient has already returned to his job.

About Fresno Surgical Hospital

Fresno Surgical Hospital is a fully-licensed, Joint Commission-accredited hospital that delivers award-winning clinical care and patient satisfaction to patients throughout Central California. The physician-owned hospital was founded in 1984, and today serves more than 17,000 patients annually. FSH’s non-traditional, hotel-like accommodations and commitment to quality care and patient satisfaction have led the hospital to be recognized as a top performer both in the state of California and nationally. For more information, visit www.FresnoSurgicalHospital.com.



Nikki Cary