Why is a Whole Eye Transplant Impossible?
Our eyes function like cameras. They capture images, which are processed and then viewed by our brains.
The optic nerve is the connection between the eye and the brain. This nerve which is created of very many fibers is responsible for delivering various signals from the eye to the brain. If the fibers are cut, it will be impossible to reconnect them.
So, even if a surgeon attempts to implant the eye into the socket, the eye will not be able to transmit all signals to the brain through the optic nerve. This will cause the patient to have improper vision.
Whole organs and some tissues can be replaced but transplantation of a whole eye from one person to another for the purpose of enhancing vision cannot be possible.
What Kind of Eye Transplants can be done?
Although it has been made clear that a whole eye cannot be transplanted, there are certain parts of the eye that can certainly be replaced.
More often than not, people who do end up undergoing an eye transplant will most likely get a cornea transplant done. But having said that, cornea transplant isn't the only kind of eye transplant that is achievable. There are some others like amniotic membrane transplant and eyelash transplant.
1. Cornea Transplant is one of the most common forms of eye transplant. The cornea is the transparent layer of the eyeballs is covering. It allows light to the interior parts of the eye.
During a cornea transplant, a diseased cornea is replaced by a donor cornea. There are chances that a lot of people can potentially become blind before their cornea transplant surgery, but after getting the transplant done their vision is 20/20. Having a 20/20 vision simply means that you possess perfect clarity or sharpness of vision.
Also, unlike other organ transplants, a person who has undergone a cornea transplant will not have to consume anti-rejection medications in order to maintain their cornea transplant.
2. Amniotic Membrane Transplant is another type of eye transplant. For quite some time, it has been used to heal sclera (white outer layer of the eyeball) and the conjunctiva (mucous membrane that covers the frontal portion of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids).
For this transplant, sometimes the human placenta is used by doctors to help in the healing process of the cornea. This placenta is donated after childbirth. The innermost layer of the placenta is called the amniotic membrane and is used to create a healing bandage which can either be temporary or permanent. These membranes aid in healing and rejuvenating the surface tissues of the eye.
3. Eyelash Transplant helps re-establish eyelashes that have been lost on account of injuries, burns or other medical conditions. This transplant has been performed numerous times and has always been a success.
It may take years before surgical technology can make whole eye transplantation possible as it requires separating and re-attaching the optic nerve which poses as a huge challenge for surgeons in the current times.