Device Co-Developed by San Diego Eye Doctor May Improve Corneal Transplant Success Rates
Dr. David J. Schanzlin performs the first endothelial keratoplasty surgery using the new EK Injector, the only device created to store, transport, and inject corneal transplant tissue.
San Diego, CA – David J. Schanzlin, MD of Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute in La Jolla recently performed the first corneal transplant for endothelial keratoplasty using the newly developed EK Injector from TDAK Medical Inc.
The device, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was developed as a collaboration among TDAK Medical Inc. CEO Tom Trozera, PhD, Dr. Schanzlin, and several physicians at the University of California-San Diego. Dr. Schanzlin, who is also President of the San Diego Eye Bank® says: “There have been other people who have tried to develop ways to put this tissue into the eye. Nobody, though, has developed something that can be used at the eye bank where the tissue is pre-cut and loaded. We’re able to ship the tissue anywhere in the world in these injectors.”
For individuals affected by endothelial diseases, such as Fuchs’ dystrophy, endothelial keratoplasty (EK) refers to transplant techniques designed to spare a patient’s cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. During EK surgery, ophthalmologists replace only the diseased or damaged innermost layer of cells, known as the endothelium. “In the 1950’s, as corneal transplantation came about, we would treat patients with a full-thickness corneal transplant,” says Dr. Schanzlin. “It would restore their sight, but it would change the refraction. Patients would have a lot of astigmatism, they would need contact lenses, and they had a greater rejection of the transplant when they did the full transplant.”
In a recent blog post, “Dr. Schanzlin and Colleagues Introduce New Corneal Transplant Device,” the ophthalmologist explains how EK surgery developed in place of full-thickness corneal transplants – as well as some of the obstacles patients and doctors still face today regarding the procedure. The EK Injector is meant to reduce such obstacles due to its ability to store, transport, and inject tissue, notes Dr. Schanzlin.
Dr. Schanzlin says traditional EK surgery uses a folding technique. Surgeons cut the tissue using a round blade, called a trephine, then transfer the tissue and unfold it in the eye. However, in many cases, Dr. Schanzlin says cell damage and/or complications with the transfer of tissue occur. He notes that the innovative design of the EK Injector minimizes the surgeon’s time in the eye, significantly reduces the loss of endothelial cells during surgery, and simplifies the eye bank’s process for handling the tissue.
“The real unique feature in this is that all the tissue processing is done in the operating room,” says Dr. Schanzlin. “The cornea is loaded into the injector and the doctor merely has to open an entry point and inject this endothelial keratoplasty button into the eye. It saves the patient time, it saves the doctor a lot of time, and ensures that there’s less wasting of tissue because of the doctor folding it incorrectly, or other problems that could result.”
The San Diego Eye Bank® also recently finalized a contract with Trozera in which TDAK Medical Inc. serves as the exclusive distributor of EK injectors. “It is very rewarding to bring this innovative technology to the market to help improve patients’ outcomes,” says Dr. Schanzlin. Dr. Schanzlin also says that he’s pleased to be able to partner with both the eye bank and TDAK to bring this device to surgeons around the country, and to advance the ability to perform endothelial transplants.
About Dr. David J. Schanzlin, M.D.
An expert in keratorefractive surgery for over 26 years, Dr. David J. Schanzlin joined Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute in 2012, and is a nationally and globally recognized leader, educator, and researcher. Dr. Schanzlin received his undergraduate degree from Case Western University in 1971 and went on to complete his medical degree and residency at the University of Chicago. Formerly the Director of Anheuser-Busch Eye Institute and Professor and Chairman at Saint Louis University’s Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. Schanzlin was approached by the University of California-San Diego in 1996 to serve as a Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and the Director of Keratorefractive Surgery at Shiley Eye Center. Included among Dr. Schanzlin’s honors and distinctions are his position as the past President of the International Society of Refractive Surgery, and his repeated recognition by his colleagues as one of the Best Doctors in America®.
About Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute
Collectively, with over 90 years of expertise in vision correction, the team of eye surgeons at Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute (GWSVI) have served the San Diego community for 20 years. Offering the latest technological advancements in vision correction and eye care, including LASIK, cataract surgery, and corneal treatment, GWSVI surgeons were also the first in the world to perform the All Laser Custom Wavefront CustomCornea® procedure. GWSVI’s diverse team is widely renowned for their clinical expertise and consists of corneal specialists, ophthalmologists, and vision correction surgeons certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.
For more information about the Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute, visit gwsvision.com and facebook.com/lasiksandiego.
Gordon Schanzlin New Vision Institute Institute
8910 University Center Lane Ste. 800, UTC
La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92122