Goulburn man John Ings is celebrating the success of an amazing eye operation where a tooth was inserted into his eye to act as a new cornea.
On Friday he was walking along Auburn Street, unassisted – the first time he has been able to do this in many years.
“I can walk by myself and I can see distances really well now,” Mr Ings said.
“And with a a $20 pair of glasses from a chemist I can see people in front of me as clear as a bell.”
“Close up is not so good as yet – I can't read, but my distance sight is fantastic. I can go out in the back yard and see Rocky Hill.”
As reported first in the Post last June, Mr Ings is the first Australian to have a tooth inserted into his eye to fix his blindness, in a radical new operation called called osteo-odonto kerato-prosthesis (OOKP). This is a complex form of artificial cornea surgery used on patients with severe forms of corneal blindness.
His blindness was the result of the herpes simplex virus eating through his cornea over many years.
Mr Ings said they completed the operation in two stages.
“I had some preliminary work to check out everything was alright. This was called a endoscopic vitrectomy - where they go into the eye and check the retina to make sure it is working. They clean any gunk off it,” he said.
“In stage one, they take the tooth and plant it in the cheekbone to get tissue on it, they also take a skin graft from the mouth and put it over the eye - so whatever vision I had in that eye was gone - this is the risk I took - it lasted 3.5 months between stage one and two - I had very limited vision.”
“I get asked a lot why do they use a tooth – the answer is that there is less likelihood of the body rejecting it once it is inserted. If the body rejects it – then it is over – I would be blind.’
“So far so good. I was told there is an 80 per cent chance of success - and those odds were good enough for me.”
Mr Ings said he was loooking forward to reading again and would go to an optometrist to get proper reading glasses.
”I also want to get my driver’s licence next, so I can drive again,” he said.