Volume 2 Issue 11 - June 01, 2004

Mumbai teenager given chance to see again

DNIS News Network -- On May 14 in Mumbai, a group of eye surgeons from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and a dental team from the National Dental Centre completed the first stage of a two-stage surgical procedure to enable a blind boy to see once more. It was the first operation of its kind in Southeast Asia.

Luck Pewnual, now 19 years old, lost his sight in both eyes following a rare allergic reaction, when he was just 13. Pewnual is currently recovering after the six-hour operation at the Singapore National Eye Centre.

SNEC spokesperson Ravi Chandran said the surgery is the last attempt at reviving vision for those who have lost their sight because of severe damage to their cornea and the front part of their eye and eyelids. "Patients for the surgery will be chosen on the basis of complete blindness in which conventional corneal transplants will not work."

SNEC is expected to send a medical team to various Indian cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, to train eye surgeons in the technology.

Chandran said Pewunal's surgery was led by the deputy director of SNEC, associate professor Donald Tan: "The surgery on Pewunal involved five separate procedures. First one of his eyes was opened up and the entire inner surface of his eyelids, along with his corneal surface and scar tissues from his previous eye injury was removed. This was followed by the removal of the inner mucosal lining of the cheek which was transplanted onto the new surface of the eye," Chandran said.

A further operation will be conducted after one month, which should result in the restoration of sight.

Chandran added that the process would be repeated for others in India and throughout Southeast Asia. "SNEC is presently compiling a list of local and regional patients," he said.

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