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Fundraising target achieved: Specular Microscope £20,000

The MHMT has achieved its fundraising target of £20,000 for a Specular Microscope.

Diseases of the cornea, or opacity of the front of the eye, are a major cause of childhood blindness, particularly in India, affecting approximately four per cent of blind children up to the age of 14. Corneal blindness may be caused by infectious and inflammatory eye conditions, injury, ulceration and dystrophies.

Corneal transplant is now the treatment of choice for a carefully selected group of infants and children with corneal opacity for which excellent quality corneal tissue is essential, not least because of longevity and the implications for economic and social life.

In spite of a range of challenges, successful outcomes in graft survival and visual restoration are reported in over 50 per cent of cases. The combination of a dedicated transplant team, and the education and cooperation of the patient's family are imperative for a positive outcome. A careful risk-benefit analysis is undertaken before planning surgery, not only on medical grounds but on the ability of the family to undertake frequent follow-up at the Institute, understand the importance of medication, and in recognising emergencies such as rejection and infection.

The specular microscope is used to evaluate the quality of cornea tissue. It yields important information on cell counts that guides the specialist’s decisions when managing a corneal disorder; whether or not to proceed with transplantation, and in cases of rejection, if repeated procedures are indicated.

Approximately 15 pediatric corneal transplants are performed every year at present in the Miriam Hyman Children’s Eye Care Centre.
This is dependant upon the availability of good quality corneal tissue and the eye bank at the Institute is instrumental in the recovery of an average of 500 corneas every month (enabling distribution beyond the requirements of adults and children at the Institute).

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