Legally blind man regains sight following first successful synthetic cornea transplant

After 10 years of being blind, a 78-year-old Israeli man can see again after receiving the first successful artificial cornea transplant.

Developed by Israeli startup CorNeat, the KPro implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred or opacified corneas. 

The device bio-integrates into the eyewall with no reliance on donor tissue - a significant breakthrough that could help millions of blind people worldwide.

After a one-hour surgery, Jamal Furani was able to recognise family members and read text.

A video aired on Israeli news outlet Israel Hayom shows the aftermath of Furani's surgery. 

CorNeat co-founder and KPro inventor Dr Gilad Litvin said: "Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal."

The surgery was performed by Professor Irit Bahar, director of the ophthalmology department at Rabin Medical Center in Israel.

Bahar said the result of the procedure exceeded all expectations.

"The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment," Bahar said.

"Moments like these are the fulfilment of our calling as doctors."

The surgery was performed on January 11 as part of the first human trials of the implant.

CorNeat said the implant will transform global corneal therapy and provide, for the first time, a reliable and scalable synthetic substitute to the human cornea.

The implant is a non-degradable synthetic nano-tissue that is placed under a thin membrane that covers the surface of the eyelid and the sclera - the white area of the eye.

The top layer is designed with biomimetic material that stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integrations.

Corneal blindness affects two million people each year and accounts for more than five percent of the total blind population worldwide.