Dubai: Emirati baby girl, who nearly went blind, gets vision back in complex surgery

She was born with a large cyst over her left eye, which blocked more than 50 per cent of her sight


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 1 Apr 2023, 2:14 PM

An 18-month old Emirati baby girl got her vision back, thanks to a successful congenital corneal operation done by a team of eye doctors at a hospital in Dubai.

The girl (whose name is requested not to be revealed) was born with a large congenital cyst over her left eye, which led to continuous loss of vision. She was brought to Barraquer Eye Hospital Dubai in February this year.

According to Dr Muhsen Samaan, medical director at Barraquer Eye Hospital, “the cyst was 5.3mm, which meant more than 50 per cent of her vision was blocked in her left eye and her natural cornea was opacified (blurred) as well.

“The cyst was affecting her visual development,” Dr Samaan told Khaleej Times, explaining: “The cornea is a fine transparent layer – or we can say it’s a window to the eyes – that covers the eyeball, in front of the iris and the pupil. With a damaged cornea, images often appear blurry and unclear, which was the case in the 18-month-old child since her birth. If left untreated it could have led to deep lazy eye or amblyopia (poor vision in one eye).”

“Living with partial vision can lead to daily challenges and such condition will have severe effect on the child’s development,” he added.


How treatment was done

Dr Hernán Alfonso Martínez Osorio, senior consultant ophthalmologist, led a medical team that conducted the complex surgical procedure that included putting the baby under general anaesthesia.

“Corneal transplant is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced by donated corneal tissue. These healthy corneal tissues are generally shipped from corneal banks around the world. The specific cornea we used was brought from a cornea bank in the US,” Dr. Osorio said.

“The complex procedure involved removing the congenital cyst, partial removal of the existing cornea and then replacing it with the new one,” explained Dr Osorio, adding: “This required a highly specialised team, which included paediatric ophthalmic surgeons, a paediatric anaesthesiologist, and a corneal transplant specialist.

“In paediatric ophthalmic cases, the pre-operative and post-operative care is different as compared to adults. Hence, extra care and precautions were taken by the medical team,” Dr. Samaan added.

The surgery was completed in two hours and a post-surgery nurse was tasked to stay in the hospital with the family before the baby was discharged after 24 hours.

Improved vision

Dr. Samaan noted: “The child’s vision will continue to improve gradually following her surgery. Her transplanted cornea has about a 12-month watch period, and she would be under our constant care and attention.”

The family expressed their happiness at the success of the operation and their gratitude to the medical team who performed the operation, noting that they did not have to travel abroad as there are advanced medical facilities in the UAE that are capable of doing complex surgeries.


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