The placenta is what lies on the other end of the umbilical cord after it’s snipped from the baby, and is a byproduct of the birthing process. Most of the time they are discarded, but some mothers opt to donate them to be used in medical research.
Some doctors, like Chike Mordi from Vision Source, claim to have found a way to use the placenta to treat scarring and inflammation of the eyes.
One of Dr. Mordi’s patients, Andrea Jenkins, suffers from diabetes, which can have a very harsh impact on the eyes. When Jenkins began to show early signs of diabetic retinopathy, she sought out Dr. Mordi in an attempt to preserve as much of her eyesight as possible.
Unfortunately, by that time, there was already quite a bit of damage done. But not so much that Dr. Mordi wasn’t able to help.
“The top layer of my eye was just not there, so he actually put a membrane on top of my eye,” Jenkins said.
According to Dr. Mordi, dehydrated amniotic membrane tissue is placed onto the eye, and is held in place by a contact lens that slowly dissolves as the eye heals. “The membrane is part of the placenta,” Dr. Mordi said. “Whenever a woman gives birth, and if she decides to donate it, they harvest the tissue itself and then use this to help heal the eye itself .”
In addition to diabetic retinopathy, this method is also being used to treat people with dry eye syndrome and corneal abrasions. Dr. Mordi says that healing times are reduced drastically, down to just a single week. “The membrane reduces scarring and it reduces inflammation also. And it helps the eye heal faster, it helps it regenerate, like if you think of it like a born-again eye,” Dr. Mordi said.
Jenkins came to Dr. Mordi when the surface of her eye was a dull grey colour, but says that after her treatment the colour is now back to normal. “I didn’t even know it was possible, I mean I literally kind of lost my vision by the time I got here,” said Jenkins. “For me to be able to see after he did it, a week later, it was amazing to me.”