An implant made of plastic could soon offer patients the chance to see again without having to wait for cornea transplants.
German research centre Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft claims that, each year, 40,000 people in Europe await these transplants but many do not receive them as donor corneas are relatively rare.
Earlier data issued by UK Transplant revealed that eye donors helped almost 3,000 people to see clearly again between 2008 and 2009, which was promising but still leaves many without sight.
Dr Joachim Storsberg, of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, developed the material and production process for the plastic corneal prosthesis.
The hydrophobic polymer material has been used in ophthalmology for a long time, such as for intraocular lenses, but it has been modified on a polymer-chemical basis and tested for this new purpose.
In recognition of his accomplishment, Dr Storsberg was awarded the 2010 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.
by Emily Tait