The surface of the cornea is covered by the epithelium which consists of several layers of transparent cells that are constantly renewed by the action of the limbal stem cells. When the corneal stem cells are severely damaged, the cornea becomes opaque and the patient becomes blind from that eye. In these cases, only the cornea transplantation is not sufficient to restore vision. The risk of failure is 100%. It is therefore necessary, before transplantation, to reconstruct the corneal surface, via a graft of autologous stem cells, taken from the healthy eye of the same patient and grown in the laboratory. At the end of the culture (about 3 weeks) and after appropriate checks, the stem cells can be grafted on the damaged corneal surface. The overall survival rate of the grafted cells is about 90% at one year, but drops to 74% at 5 years, and 62% at 10 years.
The Staff of Vision Engineering Italy srl participates in the development of a new method of cultivation of stem cells of the cornea which will be able to improve the results of current clinical techniques and at the same time will allow the recovery of visual function in only one surgery, instead of two as usual. The aim of Vision Engineering Italy is to identify a method that is able to analyze the cultures of stem cells in corneal non-invasive way. The end application is to provide the technician of the Bank of the eyes a tool able to assess accurately the sprouting is the proliferation of cells in culture.