For the medical world in the 21st century, organ transplantation is not new. Kidney transplant surgery was first performed in 1950, followed by a liver transplant in 1963 and the first human heart in 1967.
In 2010, doctors even do a whole human face transplant. But there is one organ that is not controlled by the surgeon, the whole organ of the human eye.
The team of scientists in the United States are now preparing to do so. If successful, then the dream of everyone who are blind to see will be real.
"Until now, eye transplant is still considered as science fiction. People thought it was crazy, impossible," said Dr.Vijay Gorantla, a surgeon in the plastic surgery department of the University of Pittsburgh.
However, knowledge of transplantation and, more importantly, nerve regeneration, a provision is important for scientists to more confidently perform eye transplant. "We are confident that this is something that can be done," he said.
Whole eye transplant will benefit the 180 million people who are blind or severely visually impaired worldwide.
According Dr.Jeffrey Goldberg, macular degeneration and glaucoma is the most common cause of visual impairment. Indeed, there are therapies that can be done to correct vision or blindness from the disease because of injury.
"But in some people eye damage is too severe or too difficult to repair. For example, eye injuries Pasian nothing left optic nerve, or do not have eyeballs," says Goldberg.
In such cases, grafts from donor eyes healthy is the solution. "This is a scientific approach and also very interesting," he added.
The main obstacle
Gorontla and Goldberg is one of the teams that are working on making eye transplant theory can be realized in practice. The effort is funded by the US Department of Defense.
The biggest challenge is how to regenerate and grow the optic nerve is very complicated.
"The main problem is when we take out eyeballs, then we have to cut all of the connections between the optic nerve and the eye. So when transplanted, the donor is required to reconnect nervous eye to the brain so that the receiver can be restored vision," said Goldbergh.
The problem is, so we cut the nerve fibers, not easy to grow back. "That can not happen automatically," he said.
That's what distinguishes the eye transplant with other types of organ transplants. "On the other organ transplant is needed is to reconnect the blood supply, while the eye grafts had more connections," he said.
The eyes look healthy because the blood supply is kept up to date, but in the absence of optic nerve connections there would be no motor activity and no vision.
New research in nerve fibers regenerate new hope. In experiments on animals were injured optic nerves could be grown back and is connected with the brain. Regeneration of cells called the retinal ganglia, the key vision, also successfully carried out in the laboratory.
"Experiments indicate eye transplant can be done," said Gorantla.
Nevertheless, there are still many things to be prepared experts before actually tried on patients.
"When we conducted a survey, the loss of vision is one of the most feared other than death. Therefore, this effort is worth it to try," he said.