Seeing Eye ToothA middle-aged British man blinded in an industrial accident has had his sight restored in an extraordinary procedure that transplanted one of his teeth into his eye socket.

The man had his cornea torn in six places by scrap metal and all other attempts to save his sight failed. Gambling that anything was better than blindness, depression and unemployment, the man had faith in ophthalmic surgeon, Chritstopher Liu, and his colleagues at Sussex Eye Hospital.

The radical procedure is called osteo-odonto-keratoprothesis and has been detailed in a new BBC documentary: The day I got my sight back.

The complicated surgery is done in two phases. The initial process was to remove a tooth and part of the man’s jaw. Using his own tissue minimised the chances of his body rejecting the transplant.

A lens was inserted into a specially-drilled cavity in the tooth which was then implanted under the eye socket. A delay of several months was necessary to allow the tooth to grow tissues and develop a blood supply. The second surgical phase involved incision and removal of part of the cornea with the tooth stitched into the space.

The man’s sight slowly returned during the recovery phase and is now 40% of his original capacity.  His new eye is noticeably pink with an unusual black pupil which attracts plenty of curious stares but he says that is a small price to pay to see his four year old twins’ faces for the first time. He described that as an ecstatic experience.

Picture: Walker George Films