Miracle operation for Bangor's Honor Davis
Last week, Bangor's Honor Davis made the national news for her miracle vision restoring eye operation.
The County Down grandmother lost her sight when she developed a rare skin and eye disorder, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, when she was aged just 26.The disorder left the surface of her eyes so severely scarred she was legally blind. But doctors determined the inside of her eyes were still functional enough that she might one day see again. The front of Honor's eyes - her corneas- were damaged beyond repair due to a lack of tears with no wetness under the eyelids. The inside however - her lens and the retinas behind should be unaffected by the syndrome.
Honor travelled to Brighton's East Sussex Eye Hospital accompanied by UTV Reporter Judith Hill who covered the highly delicate operation in three ITV news reports shown last week on UTV.
Professor Christopher Liu and his team first removed one of Honor's teeth and made a hole in it in which a lens was placed that will replace Honor's cornea. The second part of the operation is preparing Honor's eye to put the tooth into it - in a similar operation first carried out in the USA, some of the mucous lining of the patient's cheek was used to create a bed in which the tooth was then implanted.
Using a tooth might sound strange, but it also offers an advantage. Because doctors use Honor's own cheek and tooth tissue she faces less risk that her immune system will attack the tooth and reject the transplant. Patients getting a cornea transplant from a deceased donor, on the other hand, face chances that their immune system will reject the new tissue. The tooth and new lens also don't suffer from dryness in the same way that a new corneas would do so.
Just 24 hours later, Honor could see shapes and light. It is now three months since the operation: “It has been so long since I saw trees and flowers in their true colour that you forget actually what the true colour is,” Despite some post-op difficulties, she now reportedly has 25% vision and is able to see the faces of her young grand-children. And hopefully with more time, her vision will recover even more as her eyes and brain learn to work again after almost 40 years of grey.
Thankfully most people who suffer with dry eyes don't have the damage caused by something as severe as Steven-Johnson syndrome. If your eyes are gritty or irritable, make an appointment for an eye examination - we can now often help you manage the cause of your dry eye rather than you just relying on artificial tears and other eyedrops.
Main Image credit UTV - Honor walking by Bangor marina