In 1963 an Italian eye doctor, Benedetto Strampelli, came up with a way to restore lost vision — osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (OOK) surgery — but it was another Italian ophthalmologist, Giancarlo Falcinelli, who was able to work out problems which had kept it from being widely used.
It’s astonishing. It involves transplanting one of your teeth into your eye.Dr. Victor Perez, a cornea specialist at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida led the surgical team who restored sight to Sharron Thornton of Smithdale, Mississippi by removing one of her teeth (literally, one of her eye teeth), drilling a hole in it, inserting a plastic lens into the hole and then implanting the tooth-lens combination into her left eye.
This is the first time this surgery has been performed in the United States. It has helped others regain lost sight in Europe and Japan, having been reintroduced in Britain in 1996.
The whole process took six months, but after being blind for nine years, Mrs. Thornton can now see the color of the sky, read and, to her great delight, see her grandchildren, some for the first time.
It’s important to note that this surgery was developed by doctors in Italy, England and Japan, countries which all have some form of universal health care that provides better outcomes for patients. It has obviously not put a crimp in their ability to break new ground in medical care and procedures.