Al-Shifa begins corneal transplantation with cutting-edge technology.

The Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital has authorised the use of Bowmann Layer Transplantation (BLT) for keratoconus patients after reviewing two years’ postoperative outcomes. The hospital has begun treating keratoconus patients using cutting-edge Swiss femtosecond laser technology, which is expected to benefit many people in Pakistan who have keratoconus and are awaiting corneal transplantation.

According to Major Gen. (Retd) Rehmat Khan, President of the Al Shifa Trust, the trust has become the first hospital in Asia to employ femtosecond laser technology in public for treating Keratoconus. This eye condition damages the cornea. He said that BLT strengthens the weak cornea, avoiding or delaying the need for a full corneal transplantation.

He told reporters that the most recent technology was used experimentally for the first time in 2020 and is now being used in patient care due to successful testing.

He went on to say that the decision would not only allow our ophthalmologists to deliver cutting-edge care to their patients, but it would also allow us to train medical experts from other hospitals.

He added that with this latest technology, layers of one donor cornea can be used to treat two to three patients with different corneal problems. He said that more than two hundred and fifty thousand patients are waiting for corneal transplants while we operate on 800 patients yearly, adding that a big deficit exists between corneal supply and demand.

Maj. Gen. Retired Rehmat Khan said that 53% of eye patients have no access to donated corneas as local corneal donations are insignificant; therefore, we must import corneas from the USA and Sri Lanka.

Corneas are one of the easiest tissues to transplant; no matching is required between the donor and recipient. It is a bloodless tissue that takes oxygen directly from the air, he said, adding that a cornea can be taken from an elderly person and grafted onto the eyes of a much younger one.

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