Many eye disorders that cause total blindness can be treated successfully enough to prevent this final outcome. Modern technologies and techniques allow eye care providers to perform advanced procedures to reverse, arrest, or at least slow vision loss. Some of these procedures include:
Corneal transplant – Individuals who suffer from weak, damaged, or deformed corneas may opt for a corneal transplant after other corrective procedures have failed. Depending on the extent of the problem, your eye doctor may extract the entire central portion of the cornea or just the epithelial layer beneath the topmost layer of tissue. You will then receive a donor cornea or a biocompatible synthetic cornea. While you may be able to return to your daily life activities after a few weeks, total recovery can take a year or more.
Corneal collagen crosslinking – People with keratoconus suffer from weak collagen bonds in their corneal tissue. Corneal collagen crosslinking addresses this problem by using a combination of riboflavin and UV-A rays to strengthen the bonds between the collagen fibers. This type of procedure is referred to as CXL or C3R; while it does not reverse the bulging caused by keratoconus, it might slow the disorder and thus help you avoid a corneal transplant.
Intacs for keratoconus – If you suffer from a bulging of the cornea known as keratoconus, you may be able to flatten that bulge out with the aid of Intacs. These tiny, sliver-shaped inserts are fitted into an incision around the periphery of the cornea. They exert just enough outward pressure to flatten the bulge back to a normal spherical shape. If you can’t get satisfactory vision correction from glasses or contacts, Intacs may be the next logical choice.
Vitrectomy and other vitreoretinal procedures – The eye is filled with a clear, gelatinous substance called the vitreous humor. If foreign matter such as blood or bits of tissue are floating through this substance, you may experience vision problems. In a vitrectomy, the surgeon inserts a needle to drain out the compromised vitreous humor, replacing it with sterile saline. In addition to vitrectomy, other vitreoretinal procedures may be necessary to treat conditions ranging from retinal detachment to macular degeneration.