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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Bioengineered Corneas Stand to Cure Blindness For Millions of People Around the World

•, By Andy Corbley

Professor Gerard Sutton is co-founder of Bienco, which he claims now possesses a product—both physical and intellectual—that will soon be able to mass-produce natural corneas for transplantation into the blind.

Cornea transplantation is the most common way of restoring lost sight, but it's a very technical procedure that relies on donors. The thin see-through "windscreen" of the eyeball, damage or disease to the cornea is a major cause of non-hereditary blindness worldwide.

In the interview, Sutton's voice shrinks as he recalls a trip he took to Myanmar in 2004 when he was hoping to help the situation of blindness from the previous civil war by training surgeons to perform cornea transplants. On ice, he said, he had brought along four donated corneas from the NSW Eye Bank.

On his arrival at the clinic set to host him, 1,000 people were waiting, thanks to a small article in a local paper. Out of a thousand blind men and women, he had to select four who would be the most suitable for transplant: he picked young people.


This was a transformational experience, and when paired with a follow-up trip to Cambodia where a similar situation occurred, Professor Sutton realized he needed to do something more: something "out of left field" that would allow him to send as many corneas to these parts of the world as was needed.