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CEI team implants iris to restore patient's vision

CEI team implants iris to restore patient's vision (WKRC)

***GRAPHIC VIDEO WARNING***

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It happened in an instant and it changed his eyesight forever.

Now, thanks to a medical team in Cincinnati, a college student may soon get his vision back. It's been years since the student has been able to see clearly due to a tragic accident. A team at the Cincinnati Eye Institute took Local 12 inside the operating room and the results were quite eye catching.

Frank Lockeheart said, “It was two days before my 16th birthday.”


Lockeheart was playing a friendly game of paintball with a friend when in an instant his whole life changed, “He pointed the gun to sort of mess with me a little bit, and there was one more paintball left so it hit me square in the eye from maybe three, four feet away.”

He had initially so much damage, “There wasn't much they could do for me, other than the pain,” shared Lockehart.

Now, several years later in spite of multiple procedures to repair the damage when Lockehart describes what he sees, “The best way I can describe it is one of those foggy shower doors.”

The problem was due to damage to the iris of the eye.

Dr. Michael Snyder, an eye surgeon, said, “Light sensitivity is a big problem when people have iris damage like this.”

Doctor Snyder is one of the few specialists in the world who specializes in repairing that kind of damage. Since the iris is the flat, colored, ring shaped membrane in the eye around the pupil. DR. Snyder has had an artificial iris customized and manufactured to match Lockehart’ other eye and Lockeheart has asked him to implant it.

Local 12 News was in the procedure room to see how doctors work. His goal in the end was to have hopefully nearly perfect vision. As the time lapse built by photojournalist TR Gormley showed, Dr. Snyder first has to rebuild what was under the iris and replace and secure an implant lens to the wall of the eye. Then, Dr. Snyder implants the iris. The hope is that this will act much like a natural iris and filter light, leaving Lockehart with better vision than he has had in years.

“Some people will notice a big difference immediately as we take the patch off on the following morning, other patients might find that the improvement is more gradual,” said Dr. Snyder.

Lockehart needs about six months before he will know how well the procedure really worked. So far he had one follow up appointment and he had had improvement in his vision.

The team does expect it to progress and Local 12 News will have more on the results.

Lockheart is in medical school and the procedure could determine whether or not he can choose surgery as a specialty; a dream he has had since this all happened.

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