San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tico Man Gets Artificial Cornea

Doctors say somewhere toward the end of October,Marvin Barrantes, 41, will open his right eye and see clearly.

Barrantes, who had a cataract and other complications that made most corrective surgeries to his vision out of the question, recently became the first Costa Rican to receive an artificial cornea, according to the daily La Nación.

The surgery, carried out July 26 at the private ClínicaBíblicaHospital, took less than two hours, with approximately two hours more of recovery in the hospital before Barrantes could return home.

The artificial cornea, developed in Australia and shipped to Costa Rica, is a tiny convex gel lens, about the size of a pencil eraser, surrounded by a spongy ring. It is placed in a circular cut made to the existing cornea, and the eye is covered for 12 weeks while the body accepts the spongy material.

Artificial corneas are used in cases where patients’ bodies reject corneas taken from donor cadavers, or whose eyes have deformations that make other surgeries impossible, the daily reported.

The cornea is the eye’s primary lens. It is transparent, located in front of the iris, and responsible for 75% of vision. An estimated 15 million people in the world are blind because of diseases of the cornea.

In Costa Rica, about 150 human cornea transplants are performed each year, and 100,000 are performed worldwide.

The artificial cornea, manufactured by the Australian company CooperVision Surgical, costs $3,000 in Latin America and $7,000 in Europe and the United States (TT, May 26).


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