Bringing Sight to the Sightless Through Medical Innovation



"What the developing world needs is a safe, long-term and inexpensive corneal prosthesis. Our goal with the KPro is simple: get it out there so it is doing some good and helping as many people as possible."

Claes Dohlman, MD, PhD

An estimated eight million people in the world are blind from corneal disease, and the majority of patients live in developing countries. For some patients, conventional cornea transplantation offers a successful and life-changing solution. But sometimes transplants fail, while other patients suffer from conditions that make them poor candidates for traditional transplantation. HMS Emeritus Professor of Ophthalmology, Claes H. Dohlman,D, PhD, has devoted much of his life’s work to solving this problem. Dr. Dohlman, founder of the cornea specialty, invented the Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro), which combines a corneal prosthesis with a synthetic supporting structure that sometimes can be used as a successful alternative to conventional cornea transplants. Approved by the FDA two decades ago, the KPro is now used in 150 centers in the United States and around the world, offering sight to thousands of people who would otherwise remain blind.

Pilot programs in developing nations around the world are bringing KPro’s sight-saving benefits to these populations. Programs exist in India, China, Thailand, Central and South America, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Cornea experts James Chodosh, M.D., and Roberto Pineda, M.D., also have worked to broaden the availability of the Boston KPro worldwide. In 2008, Dr. Pineda led the effort to establish the first KPro center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, teaching surgical implantation techniques to ophthalmologists and support staff and the necessary follow-up care needed to ensure successful outcomes. The self-sustaining clinic serves as a model as the Mass. Eye and Ear team studies the viability of Boston KPro in developing countries.

Currently, Dr. Chodosh is developing a $50-100 "Lucia" model keratoprosthesis for use in underdeveloped countries.

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