"The timing is crucial, because if a child hasn't seen out of an eye for a few years, and then suddenly vision in the eye is fixed, the brain doesn't know what to do with that information," Gearinger added. "If the brain has been deprived of vision at an early age, it's permanently affected, no matter how well the eye is focused later on. That's why it's crucial to intervene early on."
So far in Rochester, approximately 25 infants and children have been outfitted with the Boston device since 2003, including children from France and the United Kingdom whose families sought out Aquavella for treatment. The youngest child to receive the implant was 5 weeks old.
Along with his work in children, Aquavella has implanted the device in more than 100 adults from around the nation in the last three years and is now performing about one or two of the procedures each week.
Earlier this year, in a publication in Cornea: The Journal of Cornea and External Disease, Aquavella evaluated results of the Boston device in adults compared to an older device. In his study, a group of 25 patients who have received the plastic device since 2003 had no infections in the first year after surgery, and not a single one has needed to undergo another operation due to complications. This is in marked contrast to a group of 31 patients whom he also operated on, using a different technology, nearly 30 years ago. That group underwent a total of 51 additional operations to fix problems such as the implant popping out of the eye, and about one in three patients had a subsequent eye infection.
"The change is absolutely dramatic," said Aquavella. "Thirty years ago, our hope was that after the operation, patients could see well enough to see some movement and care for themselves for a few years. That was considered success. Now many of our patients are out driving cars, riding horse
Source:University of Rochester Medical Center