By Adrian Galbreth
Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new glue mixture that may reduce the risks after patients undergo laser eye surgery.
Stacy Littlechild is the lead author of two studies that describe how a new protocol involving fibrinogen, riboflavin and ultraviolet light could improve the safety of LASIK.
The first study highlights the benefits of the new mixture in terms of its ability to bind corneal surface and is featured in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), while the second details the molecular mechanisms of how the glue creates adhesion.
LASIK involves a laser that reshapes the cornea, helping patients focus better and removing their dependence on contact lenses or glasses. During the procedure a flap is cut in the cornea so the laser can remove corneal tissue.
The hinged flap is then returned to its original position and is held onto the modified cornea with nothing but surface tension.
Gary Conrad, a professor in the Division of Biology at the university, said that the cornea therefore has limited ability to re-adhere and does not fully heal after the procedure.
"Although LASIK produces a flap that remains clear and normally lays smoothly on the modified corneal surface, if the eye is hit with blunt force trauma – from an auto airbag or a tennis ball, for example – the flap simply peels open again, resulting in contamination inside the cornea and requiring immediate medical attention, which can include corneal transplantation," he explained.
However, the studies conducted by Ms Littlechild said that patients are often required to take a few days off work to recover from the operation. "If we can decrease the need for transplants by using a glue, then we won't impede lives as much and protect patients from having future surgeries."
In the first study, she discovered that using glue made from ?brinogen and ribo?avin and then binding proteins and glue together using ultraviolet light provided the best adhesion to keep the cornea's flap in place.
The following study indicated that both covalent and zinc-mediated non-covalent mechanisms contributed to the adhesion process. Her findings could prompt further development of the glue and could reveal alternative uses throughout the body.
by Adrian Galbreth