Goulburn man John Ings, 72, had his sight restored by having a tooth with a lens put in his eye socket with the help of oral and maxillofacial specialist, Dr Shannon Webber and oculoplastic surgeon, Dr Greg Moloney.
The procedure saw a lens inserted into one of his teeth, which was extracted and then placed into his cheek so tissue would grow around it, enabling its own blood supply.
“We rely on the tooth to gain its own blood and tissue supply so when it is removed from the mouth, what you have essentially is a living complex,” Dr Webber said.
After three months surgeons removed the tooth and inserted it into Mr Ings’ old cornea. Skin was then removed from his mouth and placed over the new cornea to seal it.
The surgery took place in four parts – and days after the final procedure his bandages were opened to test his vision.
Berry leans in as John puts his arm around her, and the pair are both heard sobbing with happiness.
After some time, Berry leans back and asks her husband: “Well? What do you see?”
John answers with just one word: “Gorgeous.”
It was the first time the surgery, called osteo-odonto kerato-prosthesis, has been performed in Australia.
John Ing damaged his right eye in a childhood accident, and gradually lost vision in the other over the past 16 years because of the herpes simplex virus.
Since John Ings’ surgery, a 50-year-old Cairns woman, Leonie Garrett, has also had the procedure and now boasts 20/20 vision.
On both occasions the surgeons were supervised by a German specialist who trained the men after revolutionizing the procedure in 2004.
John Ings hailed the procedure a success, and said “You’ve got to lose it and regain it to really appreciate it.”