Ahli Hospital has introduced an automated special device to analyze the quality of the sensitive tissue

Ahli Hospital has introduced an automated special device to analyze the quality of the sensitive tissue

Eye Bank Microscope increases safety of corneal transplantation


DOHA: To ensure the safety and increase success rates in corneal transplantation, Al Ahli Hospital has introduced an automated special device to analyze the quality of the sensitive tissue, especially when it comes from the far-away countries like the US and Europe.  

A sophisticated digitalized specular microscope now ensures an accurate tissue assessment prior to the surgical procedure, which is commensurate with international safety standards.

Due to the lack of a national eye banking facility and the lack of donors, corneal transplantation  in Qatar relies on tissue brought from other countries. These tissues are extremely sensitive. One cell layer must survive handling and a long journey in order to make the surgery a success, but the cells cannot be seen and assessed without this special microscope.

Until now reliance on data stemming from the sending institution carried an increased risk of failure, and recent studies have shown that the preoperative final grading of tissues was significantly different compared to the initial condition of the organ.  

The possibility of decaying tissues due to faulty harvesting from the donor, inappropriate storage and handling, and travel delays may expose the delicate cell layers to many adverse events, which will reduce the number of properly functioning cells necessary for a successful transplantation procedure.

If bad quality material is used an unsuccessful surgery due to primary graft failure (e.g. the transplant does not work properly and the cornea is opaque instead of clear) results. “Primary graft failure lets the patient suffer psychologically and physically, and necessitates an immediate second surgery”, says Professor Alexander Bialasiewicz, Head of the Ophthalmology Department at Al-Ahli Hospital.

Transplantation of low-quality material can be avoided by the use of this device, and patient safety and satisfaction can be increased. Even if the local acquisition of corneas for an Eye Bank facility is not foreseeable the benefit of an eye bank specular microscope to analyze the quality of transplant material coming in from abroad is clear. Therefore, this facility will be made available for requesting institutions in Qatar.

In the  MENA region with 580.2 million people total blindness affects 4.9 million (prevalence 0.85%), bilateral corneal blindness 0.81 million (17% of total blindness) with a total prevalence of 0.14% according to most recent studies.

An undetermined, but probably even higher number would be found in unilateral low-vision populations.

It has been estimated by the WHO that most cases of corneal blindness are preventable or at least treatable. Sometimes the replacement of only one layer of the cornea measuring a fraction of a millimeter may result in complete visual rehabilitation. However, the amount of available donated tissue is regionally very different due to the reluctance of organ or tissue donation. Donor tissue availability is also limited due to logistical problems.


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