Placenta Tissue Has the Power to Restore Vision

Jacksonville, Fla. - A unique eye surgery is being performed at the University of Florida Department of Ophthalmology Eye Clinic on the Shands Jacksonville campus. The procedure, called amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT), is used to correct impaired vision caused from disease, injury or previously unsuccessful procedures affecting the surface of the eye.

Arun Gulani, M.D., a UF assistant professor of opthalmology and director of cornea refractive surgery at the Eye Clinic, performs the AMT procedure. The amniotic membrane used in this procedure comes from donated human placenta tissue and has some very special qualities. It can replace the surface of the eye, temporarily acting as scaffolding, joining the patient's tissue together to allow healing. It also acts as a natural bandage, which provides an antibacterial barrier that stimulates healing. Because this membrane comes from donated tissue it is adequately screened, preserved and made commercially available for safe implantation in a patient's eye for the purpose of restoring vision.

"[Gulani] studied my son's condition and took extra time to explain everything to him because he is mentally disabled," said Ethel Bernstein whose son was the first patient to have this unique eye surgery at the eye clinic. "[My son] felt so proud that he was the first."

Gulani explained that Bernstein's son is doing well and his vision is improved.

"My husband went blind," said Bernstein. "Then I began to see the same thing happen to my son. There are no words to explain what Dr. Gulani has done for my family."

With the introduction of this procedure, the UF Department of Ophthalmology now offers a full range of cornea care and management, including Lasik. This AMT procedure can also be performed with the special lamellar procedure Gulani uses to correct scars on a patient's cornea.