Skip

Man recovers vision after 12 years by implanting tooth in eye
July 18, 2009 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Recently, a man's sight was returned to him after losing it for 12 years. How did he do it? Surgeons drilled a hole through one of his canines, put a lens in it, and implanted the construct in his eye.

The specific surgery is called Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis and was first pioneered in Italy in 1963. Essentially, a tooth and a small portion of the jaw is removed from the patient. A small hole is drilled into the tooth and a lens is attached inside. The tooth construct is implanted in the cheek to allow it develop a blood supply, and then later is implanted into the eye. Despite how unwieldy this procedure seems, it has a shockingly high success rate over time. In this survey of 181 patients, 85% retained functional use of their eye after 18 years, with approximately 55% retaining the best postoperative functionality.
posted by scrutiny (65 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow.
posted by chronkite at 10:36 PM on July 18, 2009


This is one of the most amazing things I've ever read here. Holy crap.
posted by Auden at 10:40 PM on July 18, 2009


This is the greatest thing that as ever happened in human history that does not involve me.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:00 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


HOLY BEJEZUS THAT PICTURE

... I mean, I'm really quite happy for him and the technology that allowed this to happen ...

JUST PLEASE DON'T LOOK AT ME
posted by barnacles at 11:04 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


They took out his tooth and a bit of his cheek and put them in his eye, and now he can see? What, are we just makin' shit up to post on Metafilter now?
posted by madmethods at 11:04 PM on July 18, 2009 [20 favorites]


eyetooth
posted by artof.mulata at 11:06 PM on July 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


I love this stuff.

I love science.

Imagine what problems we could solve if, as a country, hell, as a planet, we could band together to promote and fund more research instead of wasting time debating how Jesus would feel about what we're doing.

Anyways, bravo to this guy! I can only imagine the joy he must feel.
posted by autobahn at 11:09 PM on July 18, 2009 [18 favorites]


My niece lost significant sight in one eye as a result of an accident with an airsoft gun this spring, but fortunately cataract surgery has apparently given her functional (if blurry) eyesight. In this case they do use a plastic lens. Pretty amazing either way.
posted by dhartung at 11:11 PM on July 18, 2009


I am no statistician, but I'd love to see how the data in the study you link to and the newer study that Wikipedia cites play together.

It looks like the 2005 study (Falcinelli et al.) indicates that if (and only if) you survived 18 years after the OOKP surgery, your chances of having functional eyesight were about 85%.

The 2008 study (Michael et al.), on the other hand, reads
Based on Kaplan-Meier analyses, 10-year anatomical survival was 66% (CI 57–76) for OOKP and 47% (CI 27–67) for OKP. Two-year functional survival was 63% (CI 55–71) for OOKP and 49% (CI 37–60) for OKP, and 10-year functional survival was 38% (CI 29–48) for OOKP and 17% (CI 5–28) for OKP.
The two studies' abstracts don't seem to jibe -- surely 47% of OOKP patients do not recover functionality between years 10 and 18. Whether this due to method or definition of terms is a question that folks with a background in statistics and access to Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology are far better equipped than I to answer.
posted by lumensimus at 11:12 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That being said, HOW AWESOME IS THIS
posted by lumensimus at 11:12 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


More about the procedure here. The eye can be fitted with a natural-looking cosmetic shell.

Warning: contains many pictures of eyeball surgery.
posted by Ratio at 11:19 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I mean to say is that there's a definite difference between 85% of folks retaining function after 18 years and 85% of 18-year survivors retaining function. There we go -- jibe away, you crazy studies!
posted by lumensimus at 11:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Warning: contains many pictures of eyeball surgery.

And yet I still had to click on it.
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:35 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


... I mean, I'm really quite happy for him and the technology that allowed this to happen ...

JUST PLEASE DON'T LOOK AT ME


Point of order: folks with eye disfigurements really, really don't dig this sort of reaction.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:57 PM on July 18, 2009 [12 favorites]


I felt the same way seeing a Smart car for the first time.
posted by mollywas at 11:57 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Point of order: folks with eye disfigurements really, really don't dig this sort of reaction.

Well, if it helps, I'm only immature about this sort of thing in regard to pictures online. I'm much better behaved in public.
posted by barnacles at 12:17 AM on July 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Where does the idea for something like this come from? "Good news, everybody! I've helped restore peoples' sight by implanting one of their teeth in their eye socket!"

/genuinely_curious
posted by Evilspork at 12:20 AM on July 19, 2009


Wouldn't he be unable to focus?

I've read this over and over and it seems like such a strange, weird approach, I can't believe that there aren't more elegant solutions. Ratio's url is a big help in understanding this; still... I'd like to know more about the reasons each part of this procedure was adopted as opposed to alternatives (should they exist). The whole thing is so surreal and fascinating.
posted by Auden at 12:25 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm with Auden; it seems odd to me that a a more elegant solution hasn't been created.

That said, this is amazing.
posted by dejah420 at 12:38 AM on July 19, 2009


'The first car I saw when my sight was restored was a Smart car and I couldn't stop laughing - I'd never seen one before and I thought it had been chopped in half.

I'm laughing with him. We get a few Smart cars come over from British Columbia into Washington every now and again. Such odd looking things, compared with the usual SUVs our drivers putter around in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 AM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let it be said that this is, if nothing else, a potent reminder to ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION when working with tubs of white hot aluminium. Jesus.
posted by disillusioned at 2:25 AM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good lord, that's amazing.
posted by goo at 2:44 AM on July 19, 2009


But wait, this was done in the UK, most likely as part of public healthcare. This makes it a SOCIALIST eye! Where is your god now?
posted by pivotal at 3:06 AM on July 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


But wait, this was done in the UK, most likely as part of public healthcare. This makes it a SOCIALIST eye!

He probably didn't even get to choose his own doctor! And I bet he waited for months to get the operation. Can we accept those negatives when the only upside is having eyesight restored at no cost to him? What good is it to have an eye when it only lets you see how much freedom you've lost? STAY BLIND FOR DEMOCRACY, MY FRIENDS!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:13 AM on July 19, 2009 [49 favorites]


I can understand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a tooth for an eye?
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:22 AM on July 19, 2009 [20 favorites]


Holy cow. Amazing.

Hard to imagine.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:25 AM on July 19, 2009


Imagine what problems we could solve if, as a country, hell, as a planet, we could band together to promote and fund more research instead of wasting time debating how Jesus would feel about what we're doing.

Can we keep our debates about ethics and human rights?
posted by honest knave at 5:51 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


see, i told you. the CIA did this to me and no one believed me.
posted by geos at 6:17 AM on July 19, 2009


I felt the same way seeing a Smart car for the first time.

i thought you were talking about HIS EYE...

btw, i was in ottawa last year and the rental car place had run out of compacts so they asked if i wanted a smart car, so i said sure why not, thinking they'd be all over the place, but no! and i got weird looks and grins everywhere i went :P
posted by kliuless at 6:32 AM on July 19, 2009


Surgeons drilled a hole through one of his canines, put a lens in it, and implanted the construct in his eye.

For some reason when I skimmed this to see if I was interested, I pictured the docotors planting a little camera in his tooth (still in place in his jaw) and then wires running up into his eye, and I thought, "Well that is unfortunate because now whenever he wants to see something his mouth will have to be open." Good thing the doctors came up with idea of putting the tooth in the eye.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:45 AM on July 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


Toothache my eye
posted by Eideteker at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


They said they didn't use a plastic lens because his body might reject it.
posted by delmoi at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2009


I'm glad this is in the Mail, because they are, while not judicious, at least sincere in their use of caps:
Blind man sees wife for first time after having a TOOTH implanted into his eye
Indeed. A goddamn TOOTH. This is so crazy I believe typing "TOOTH" in all caps should be mandatory when referencing this procedure. A fucking TOOTH. In his EYE.

Awesome post.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also: upon first reading the FPP I thought, "poor dog".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:23 AM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


So what parts of the eye need to be till intact/functioning for this to work? Looks like you must need the back part of the eye, with the rods and cones and stuff for it to fly?
posted by Iteki at 7:36 AM on July 19, 2009


I wonder how the thought process behind the procedure went.

Arm, lung, liver
Foot, puppy, liver
Puppy, cheek, liver
Thigh, cheek, eye
Uvula, cheek, eye
Tooth, cheek, eye ✓
posted by shadytrees at 7:43 AM on July 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I didn't know plugging a tooth into a different socket would turn on the lights.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:50 AM on July 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, in America this would have probably cost him an arm and a leg.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:52 AM on July 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Iteki, the eye really does work like a camera. To see perfectly, you an eyeball whose interior back surface is covered with nerves (the rods and cones to which you refer), whose front surface has exactly one hole in it (the pupil), and whose pupil is surrounded by a muscle that can change the hole's size (the iris). This dude probably doesn't have very good close-up or distance vision with his new eye - he'll have a moderately difficult time changing the eyeball's focus.
posted by Fraxas at 7:54 AM on July 19, 2009


I'd give my eye teeth to have this thing.

No, wait...
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:59 AM on July 19, 2009


Indeed. A goddamn TOOTH. This is so crazy I believe typing "TOOTH" in all caps should be mandatory when referencing this procedure. A fucking TOOTH. In his EYE.

YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TOOTH!
posted by Ratio at 8:05 AM on July 19, 2009 [16 favorites]


Great news!

Wonder if they can also do this with other body parts.
posted by Lush at 8:07 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


autobahn: Imagine what problems we could solve if, as a country, hell, as a planet, we could band together to promote and fund more research instead of wasting time debating how Jesus would feel about what we're doing.

Honest Knave: Can we keep our debates about ethics and human rights?

Dude, you know what site this is, yes? LOLXTIANS is our middle name. MetaLOLXTIANSfilter.

(nb: I am an atheist, and have zero love for the WWJD crowd, but seriously, we had to go there in this thread?)
posted by tzikeh at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


And back on topic: THAT IS FREAKING AWESOME.
posted by tzikeh at 8:09 AM on July 19, 2009


OMG. That's a completely sick and twisted idea.

Very cool that it actually works.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on July 19, 2009


pictures

Not safe for squeamish. But if you can handle it, it demonstrates very clearly what this is all about: replacing the front of a damaged eye with a bio-compatible hard shell, on top of which a fake cornea and iris can be used to hide the weird-ass construction.

Think burn victims who have a perfectly-functioning backside eyeball, but a frontside that is ruined. This is a solution for them.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 AM on July 19, 2009


I am old enough to remember that one of the burning questions around in vitro fertilization was "Will they have a soul?" (Hint: some still think "no") I'm in a state that has bitter debates about stem cell research. Some were twitchy around organ transplantation, particularly from animals. When viable hybrids like pigs bearing human-compatible organs come about, we'll see that start up again.

So, yes, the XIANs require preemptive LOLing particularly around the topics of birth control, reproductive technologies, and any sort of tissue engineering whatsoever if we are to make progress. Until such a time comes that the more moderate "wasn't me!" XIANS learn to self-police, and turn on their firebrand brethren and say, "You, there, Reverend Ignorance, shut up, you're making the rest of us look like thunder-worshipping savages and keeping me from getting a decent kidney transplant," someone must bear the duty of the LOL.

Saying "wasting time debating how Jesus would feel" isn't even a proper LOL. We must LOL harder than that, as the Wisdom of Disgust crowd has yet to vanish. Indeed, they still feel pretty okay about telling other people what to do with their bodies, in a variety of situations.
posted by adipocere at 9:15 AM on July 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Coolness.

WTF adipocere? Really?
posted by Nonce at 9:36 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


No way I can click on the link, so can someone answer this: Why a tooth? Why not a fingernail or an earlobe? Or, more seriously, a glass eye? Why does it need a blood supply?
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2009


Why a tooth? Why not a fingernail or an earlobe?

Don't be ridiculous.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


They said they didn't use a plastic lens because his body might reject it.

I don't get this. Plastic lens implantation is the most common ophthalmological surgery. Intraocular lens implantation is a standard treatment for cataract, and it has a excellent success rate. It's gaining acceptance as a technique for vision correction in competition with the various corneal shaping technologies. The technique has been around since the 50s, and is performed tens of thousands of time each year. Rejection is not a major complication.

The article doesn't make it clear why they couldn't just use a standard artificial lens mount. I'd like to know why.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2009


Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics Teeth.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2009


Remember the TOOTH! The TOOTH!
posted by emeiji at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is amazing. It should also mean the end of all British teeth jokes. Yeah, on this side of the ocean we have braces and whiteners and stuff, but can we see out of our teeth?
posted by maudlin at 1:39 PM on July 19, 2009


maybe, in the future, all of us with severe myopia will have a better use for our wisdom teeth than just making tribal jewelry or giving them to our significant others as keepsakes.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:45 PM on July 19, 2009


So, yes, the XIANs require preemptive LOLing particularly around the topics of birth control, reproductive technologies, and any sort of tissue engineering whatsoever if we are to make progress. Until such a time comes that the more moderate "wasn't me!" XIANS learn to self-police, and turn on their firebrand brethren and say, "You, there, Reverend Ignorance, shut up, you're making the rest of us look like thunder-worshipping savages and keeping me from getting a decent kidney transplant," someone must bear the duty of the LOL.

Hold on a sec, I'm taking notes....so we non-believers are obligated to snark on believers until such time as said moderate believers self-police their fellows so that they refrain from publically making assertions based on their religious belief with which we disagree? Man, can you give me a full list of topics? I have a fresh pocket Moleskin --- will that be big enough, do you think? I can see I'm not going to be any fun at Christmas parties from now on....

In other news, Seeing Eyetooth! Hot damn. Sometimes, this living in the future thing is the business.
posted by Diablevert at 4:28 PM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article doesn't make it clear why they couldn't just use a standard artificial lens mount. I'd like to know why.

When I got my IOL eight years ago, they explained that it was going to take a little while to fully stabilize as the nearby tissues grew onto the tiny hooks.

My guess is that the nature of Mr. Jones' injury left them with no viable tissue for the little haptic hooks on a standard soft lens implant (IOL) to latch onto, thanks to what was probably a large amount of burn-related scarring and outright tissue destruction. In other words, dude may have had nothing left to hang a more-standard lens on, and thus needed something explicitly put in there to hold a lens.

And yeah, IOLs do reject occasionally; what little Google Books shows me of Surgical Management of Inflammatory Eye Disease makes mention of certain types of IOLs being "surface-treated with heparin to improve biocompatibility." (Note that this book is about specific kinds of eye disease, and not about "what if you burn your eyes out with molten metals in a factory setting.")

There's a point where serious eye trauma patients have so much crazy bullshit going on inside the eye that the ophthalmologists have to get creative with solutions.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:39 PM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Diablevert, for a guy who quoted me, you sure weren't reading me. I know I'm prone to lots of clauses, so let's cut it to the chase:

"So, yes, the XIANs require preemptive LOLing ... if we are to make progress": It's not an obligation, it's a "if you want this, then this other thing is required to get that." Obligations descend pretty much out of the sky. I'm doing a cause-effect thing.

And note that you are not required to do it, only that someone, somewhere, is required to do it if the goal is desirable.

So, rather than stating an obligation to be fulfilled, regardless of consequence, by all non-believers everywhere, I suggested the far more moderate idea that, should we want the consequence, the effort must be borne by at least one person. Huge difference there.

And, of course, it isn't just public assertions, which they are free to make, but basing laws and federal funding on their "spiritual" assertions (which is odd, the business of personal spiritual matters somehow impinging on the very non-personal flesh of others), which is a whole different kettle of fish than what you seem to have done, which is translate my stance (objection to the encroachment of subjective and private religious dogma, fatwa, and wild speculation onto science and public policy for other people who do not necessarily share those beliefs) into a free speech issue.

But, you know, feel free to misconstrue what I said so you can have the joy of being snarky.
posted by adipocere at 8:19 PM on July 19, 2009


My sight has always been terrible and this article is a wake up call for me to take better care of my teeth.
posted by mazola at 8:30 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, here's the thing. I'll bet good money there isn't a single Christian organization working to ban tooth extraction, eye surgery, or itty-bitty little plastic lenses.

It sucks that a lot of churches are working against abortion, stem cell research, cloning, and so on. It sucks hard. But this thread isn't about abortion, stem cell research, cloning, or any of that. So, while that's a mighty nice axe you've got there — it really is! I've got a matching one of my own! — you should probably go grind it somewhere else.

On the other hand, I'm sort of hoping someone finds a church that thinks itty-bitty plastic lenses are a tool of Satan, because that would be awesome.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:06 PM on July 19, 2009


It would be wrong of me to deliberately misconstrue you. Returning to your original comment, you said you live in a state in which there had been "bitter debates about stem cell research" and other topics in which scientific advancement is pitted against religious proscriptions on the sacred nature of the human body, and that you antcipate that such debates will continue in the future. Therefore, you advocated "preemptively LOLing" Christians and others who might seek to retard scietific advancement, until the public atmosphere had become so altered that even moderate Christians would seek to muffle those of thier fellow believers who think such things, as the public expression of such views would do more to taint those who expressed them as "thunder-worshipping savages" then to win converts to their cause. If any of that is incorrect, please let me know.

I count myself as one who favors scientific and technological advancement, and I do not profess any faith. Therefore I would seem to naturally be one of those who is required to preemptively LOL. Again, perhaps you could further enumerate the topics for which this course of action is necessary. I would further benefit from an explanation of the many circumstances in which such tactical manuvers ought to be applied --- are their any exceptions? Funerals, infertility clinics? I would hate to do a disservice to my cause by voiciferously interjecting my opinions when they are unlikey to advance my beliefs.
posted by Diablevert at 9:55 PM on July 19, 2009


I've helped restore peoples' sight by implanting one of their teeth in their eye socket!"

I've helped restore people's sight by implanting my foot in their ass.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:53 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, the LOLXTIAN thing is tiresome. I understand that there's a lot of loony stuff out there, but somehow HURF DURF CROSS WORSHIPER is somehow acceptable in a forum where other sorts of disrespect are actively moderated.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2009


Oh, and regarding:

Imagine what problems we could solve if, as a country, hell, as a planet, we could band together to promote and fund more research instead of wasting time debating how Jesus would feel about what we're doing.

Pretty sure Jesus was cool with giving sight to the blind.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:10 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, in America this would have probably cost him an arm and a leg.

The surgery to implant an arm and a leg into an eyesocket is being pioneered, but there's no guarantee you'll be able to see any better when it's done.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:06 PM on July 20, 2009


« Older Living communally in Russia   |   The Walled Cities: Keeping Out The Joneses Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post