Local Eye Surgeon Creates New World of Vision for Many Struggling to Cope Without Sight

Courtesy Lasix.com
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Courtesy Lasix.com

HONOLULU, HAWAII – Local eye surgeon John Olkowski M.D., from Eyesight Hawaii is at the forefront of a groundbreaking procedure to implant “artificial corneas” into patients who are blind or nearly blind. Dr. Olkowski is the only physician in Honolulu working with artificial corneas, known as the Boston Keratoprosthesis, having successfully implanted 10 patients so far.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface that is the eye’s outermost layer and it is key to the eye’s visual acuity. According to Dr. Olkowski, ”corneal transplants offer a way to restore vision following injury, disease-related problems or congenital forms of blindness. The most common corrective procedure is to implant a human donor cornea into the troubled eye. However, if traditional corneal transplants fail, or a patient is not a good candidate for natural tissue transplant, artificial corneas, or Keratoprosthesis, is an alternative to restore vision.”


77-year-old Basil Crabtree of Kona is a patient of Dr. Olkowski. He suffered a debilitating eye injury in 2004 and after two unsuccessful cornea graphs Dr. Olkowski transplanted the Keratoprosthesis into his eye.”I can see light and dark shadows but prior to the surgery I was blind. This prothesis was a last resort for me and I feel very positive about the results,” says Crabtree. It has been nearly a year since the procedure and although Crabtree’s eye is still healing from the surgery, he says he can read the big E on the eye chart. The hope is that with glasses, Crabtree will see even more.

Another of Dr. Olkowski’s patients is 84-year-old Jack Gage also from Kona. He says partial sight return instantaneously after his September 2009 surgery and his vision is good enough to give him depth of perception, although his field of vision is smaller. ”This is so much better than being blind, there is no comparison,” says Gage. ”I’d rather be able to see some than not at all.”

”When we opt for the Keratoprosthesis implantation, it is for patients with the most difficult conditions to treat,” says Dr. Olkowski. ”The results of this procedure vary but patients will sometimes see dramatic results.”

Developed by leading world-renown cornea specialist, Dr. Claes H. Dohlman, the Keratoprosthesis is made of clear plastic with excellent tissue tolerance and optical properties. It consists of three parts but when fully assembled, it has the shape of a collar-button. The device is inserted into a corneal graft, which is then sutured into the patient’s cornea like in standard transplantation. If the natural lens is in place, it is also removed. Finally, a soft contact lens is applied to the surface to protect the implant

General indicators for the use of the Boston Keratoprothesis include:

  • Failed corneal graft, with poor prognosis for further grafting;
  • Vision less than 20/400 in the affected eye and additionally with lower than optimal vision in the opposite eye;
  • No end-stage glaucoma or retinal detachment.

EyeSight Hawaii has been offering the most advanced vision correction procedures and eye care to people living and traveling in Hawaii since 1999. EyeSight Hawaii offers patients the latest technology for their eye care needs, including LASIK, cataract and corneal transplant surgeries. Medical Director and Chief Surgeon, John Olkowski, M.D., is a corneal specialist with more than 20 years experience. John Olkowski along with his new associate, Jonathan Etter, M.D., are the only LASIK surgeons who travel to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii to see their patients. For more information on Eyesight Hawaii, please visit www.eyesighthawaii.com