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Glue used in partial cornea transplant

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Charles Reilly performs refractive surgery at the Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center Nov. 3, 2010, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Dr. Reilly recently performed a unique procedure to restore a patient's vision using a type of glue to correct a thinning cornea. Dr. Reilly is an ophthalmologist with the 59th Surgical Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Charles Reilly performs refractive surgery at the Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center Nov. 3, 2010, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Dr. Reilly recently performed a unique procedure to restore a patient's vision using a type of glue to correct a thinning cornea. Dr. Reilly is an ophthalmologist with the 59th Surgical Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

A refractive surgery laser shines blue on a patient's cornea as it corrects their vision on Nov. 3, 2010, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

A refractive surgery laser shines blue on a patient's cornea as it corrects their vision on Nov. 3, 2010, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An ophthalmologist here recently performed a unique procedure to restore a patient's vision.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Charles Reilly completed a partial cornea transplant using a type of glue to correct a thinning cornea.

"The patient had a full corneal transplant in the 1980's due to Keratoconus disease," said Dr. Reilly, the director of the Joint Warfighter Refractive Surgery Center here and consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General for refractive surgery. "It worked at the time, but the disease progressed over the years and left a thinning of the cornea tissue."

The patient, retired Chief Master Sgt. Michael Wright, was suffering from reduced vision, affecting his quality of life.

"He really didn't want to undergo a full corneal transplant again, so we performed a partial graft," said Kathleen Dinan, the refractive surgery clinical manager. "Dr. Reilly had to design the laser for the cut because the software isn't designed for a partial graft. We're one of the only sites in the Air Force that has the upgrade to do that."

Dr. Reilly was able to make the exact same cut in both the patient's eye and the donor's eye.

"He applied the glue over the part of the cornea he did not want to laser, shielding it," Ms. Dinan said. "I haven't heard of another case like it."

The use of cyanoacylate glue is common in corneal surgery, but this is a unique application.

"It's the first time it's ever been used in this manner," Dr. Reilly said. "Nowhere else in the military that I know of does this."

Chief Wright said he was very happy with the results.

"The surgery was not bad at all, and a week later I was back in the gym exercising," he said. "This is a huge quality of life improvement for me."

Dr. Reilly began his career through residencies at both Wilford Hall and Brooke Army Medical Centers. He did his fellowship in cornea and refractive surgery at the University of California, Davis for a year. Dr. Reilly he has been an ophthalmologist at the 59th Medical Wing's refractive surgery clinic for six years.

"We treat an average of 4,000 patients a year, using the glue with about 20 or 30 patients each year," Dr. Reilly said. "I'm very happy with the results of this new treatment and hope it can help others with similar conditions."


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