Lothian Patient In Groundbreaking Corneal Transplant

Patient Joyce Cook has an eye check-up with Dr Nainglatt TintA woman is able to see her grandchildren's faces clearly for the first time after she became the first patient in Scotland to undergo a pioneering new corneal transplant.

Joyce Cook, 87, has become the first patient north of the Border to undergo the groundbreaking procedure to correct her vision.

Now her sight is so crystal sharp she can see colours and shapes and even pick out the tiny details on the faces of her eight grandchildren.

She said: "It is amazing. I can see everything so clearly. Colours are just beautiful and I can actually see things in 3D now.

"Even faces have become clearer. I could always see my grandchildren, but now I can see the details of their lovely faces. It's marvellous."

Joyce, a former nurse from Edinburgh, underwent the pioneering operation at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh.

Donor tissue was used to replace the innermost part of the cornea to correct the damaged eye, during the procedure which has speedier recovery and faster results than traditional corneal transplants.

Dr Nainglatt Tint, Consultant Cornea, Cataract and Refractive Surgeon, became the first clinician to successfully perform the procedure in Scotland when he operated on Joyce in June 2015.

He said that the new procedure can be performed with an incision less than 3mm and gives better recovery of vision as compared to the older forms of transplantation as well as having less chance of rejection by the body.

It is performed using just one or no stitches at all so recovery times are much faster than more traditional methods and patients will begin to see the results within days.

Dr Tint said: "Medical science is advancing all of the time and I'm delighted to be able to offer this new procedure to patients in Scotland.

“It means that we can give back the gift of sight to people who had resigned themselves to a world of poor vision and possibly even blindness.

 "I am really pleased with the results for Joyce and she is making great progress. Her vision is almost back to normal and the difference that this has made to her quality of life cannot be underestimated."

The operation known as DMEK, Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty, replaces only the innermost layer of the cornea called the endothelium which is only 1/50th of a millimetre thick.

The endothelium is a single layer of cells coating the inside portion of the cornea, which is the clear dome that makes up the front part of the eye.

The cornea is about ½ mm thick and is composed of three primary layers: epithelium, stroma and endothelium.

The job of the endothelium is to provide nutrients to the cells in the stroma and to ensure it has the right amount of fluid to maintain its clarity.

Joyce said: "My eyesight was worsening every day. I couldn't drive. I could only read using a magnified tablet and everything had become very blurry, even with glasses.

"I have a lot of fluid build-up behind my eye and it was causing a lot of discomfort. In fact I only realised how painful it was after the operation cured it.

"I didn't think there was any hope left for me and until this procedure was suggested.

"I did wonder whether I should be having it at my age and if someone younger would benefit more from it, but I'm so pleased and the difference it has made to my life is wonderful.”

Dr Tint has now gone on to perform another four operations and the others are also making a good recovery and noticing super results.

Dr Nainglatt Tint with patients Joyce Cook and Peter RaeOne of the other patients was Peter Rae, 79, from Balerno, Edinburgh.

He underwent the procedure three weeks ago and believes it will allow him to continue enjoying his main hobby of driving and collecting classic cars.

The grandfather hopes to be behind the wheel for many more years to come and is already noticing major improvements in his vision.

Peter, who has required glasses since he was 11, also underwent cataract surgery some years ago, but gradually his vision was deteriorating.

He said: "I have noticed a difference in my vision every day. It is amazing. It was such a quick procedure with very little discomfort and yet it has made the world of difference to my life already."