MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Surgeons at WVU Medicine are helping to restore something that is essential for healing – pain. In most circumstances, physicians aim to alleviate pain, but for patients who have nerve damage leading to the eye, pain is essential to the preservation of their vision.
The WVU Eye Institute is the first in the region to offer corneal neurotization, a surgery that reconnects nerves to the eye in order to restore sensation.
“Much like when people have diabetic neuropathy and have difficulty healing ulcers, when patients have lost the feeling to their eye, the body doesn’t receive the signals needed to send the resources needed to heal,” John Nguyen, M.D., WVU Medicine head and neck surgeon, said. “As a result, you could lose vision, and it could be anywhere from a partial to complete loss of vision due to cloudy scar tissue.”
In the surgery, surgeons reroute the supraoribital nerve, connecting it to the cornea, restoring sensation. The surgery can also be performed using nerves from the patient’s leg or using donor nerves.
Patients who undergo this procedure can experience improved vision, though it may not be completely curative due to existing scar tissue.
“I think it’s important that people know this surgery is available, and we are able to perform it here at the WVU Eye Institute,” Dr. Nguyen said. “If we are able to restore sensation to the cornea early, the patient will have a much better outcome.”
For more information on the WVU Eye Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Eye.