1. ITV Report

'Breakthrough' by Newcastle scientists in cornea transplants

It's a major breakthrough which could save the sight of people across the world. Scientists at Newcastle University have discovered a new way of growing human corneas - the clear protective layer at the front of the eye.

The research has revealed that corneal cells isolated from human donors and grown on curved surfaces arrange themselves in a very regular lattice-like organisation.

This new technique could revolutionise how artificial tissues are traditionally grown in laboratories around the world.

The discovery could help tackle the desperate shortage of corneas, which has slowly worsened over the years because those who've had laser eye surgery can't donate them.

What is a cornea transplant?

  • A cornea transplant involves an operation to remove all or part of a damaged cornea, the clear outer layer at the front of the eye ball, and replace it with healthy donor tissue.
  • It can be performed to improve sight, relieve pain, and treat severe infection or damage such as after an acid attack.
  • One of the most common reasons for a cornea transplant is a condition called keratoconus, which causes the cornea to change shape.
  • Currently there is a shortage of donated corneas in the UK, Europe, and the USA.