Although it may sound too good to be true, scientists now claim they can cure blindness in those who've suffered a traumatic brain injury. This surgery, officially called a vitrectomy, was able to bring many patients' vision from total darkness to 20/20 within a few months.
A vitrectomy works by removing and replacing the vitreous humor found between the eye's retina and lens. Surgeons then replace this jellylike tissue with a saline solution.
Professors from the Washington University School of Medicine, Wayne State University, and the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute conducted this study. Researchers on this study looked exclusively at patients who suffered a brain injury due to a car accident. These brain injuries resulted in hemorrhaging in the patients' eyes. Vision studies done before their surgeries showed that most of these patients couldn't even make out a person's hand right in front of their eyes.
The doctors then split these patients into two groups. The first group had to have a vitrectomy at least within three months of their initial accident, and the second group had to have surgery after a longer period of time.
The amazing finding from this procedure was that a patient didn't need to get the surgery done right away to achieve amazing results. Some patients went in for the vitrectomy many months after their accident, yet they all experienced the same results. Both groups were able to achieve 20/20 vision within a few months.
Researchers said this study shows that vision can be completely restored in patients experiencing eye hemorrhaging at any time. They noted that vision was completely restored even after performing the surgery months after the initial brain injury.
All of the patients these researchers looked at had developed Terson Syndrome. Terson Syndrome refers to a vitreous hemorrhage occurring after a subarachnoid hemorrhage. In total, there were 20 patients participating in this study. Most people who develop Terson Syndrome lose sight in both eyes.
Doctors note that people who suffer brain aneurysms due to car accidents often experience bleeding in the back of the eyes. This condition needs immediate medical attention because it could often lead to a patient's death. Experts say people with brain bleeds have a mortality risk of around 10 percent. If there is any hemorrhaging in the brain and/or eye after an accident, the mortality rate skyrockets to around 40 percent.
The professors on this project are hopeful their research will help people who have lost their vision due to a traumatic brain injury. Since doctors can't work on a patient's eyes until their brain condition has stabilized, it's very important for medical professionals to know how long they can wait to perform a successful vitrectomy.