Doctors use tooth to reverse blindness

September 17, 2009 She is the first person in the United States to get her eyesight back through a complex procedure developed in Italy.

Kay Thornton lost her sight when a rare condition destroyed her cornea. Her eyesight was restored with a slice of her own tooth.

Doctors at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami shaped Thornton's tooth to hold a tiny cylinder that could be implanted in her eye, replacing a severely damaged cornea. They used the tooth because it is rigid and its bone and tissue won't be rejected by the body.

"These patients are blind because the front part of the eye does not work...So, if we can put a plastic window in the front part of their eye, we can change their life," said Victor Perez, eye surgeon.

Doctors warn that the procedure will not help most blind people and Thornton's vision is not perfect. But, less than two weeks after the operation, Thornton can read again and she saw her grandchildren for the first time.

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