The human eye is an amazing part of the body, which means treating issues with the eye is an equally significant practice. And while the types of treatments used can be as simple as eye drops for many common issues, others require help from parts of the body that share some of the eye’s amazing traits.
The front of the eye is a specific area that requires special attention because issues left untreated can cause impaired vision and long-term damage. Specifically, the cornea and the clear film called the conjunctiva that covers the white of the eye must be restored to their normal state as quickly as possible when they’re damaged or otherwise afflicted.
One of the unique ways the cornea and conjunctiva can be treated is with amniotic membranes. The term amniotic comes from exactly where you’re thinking: The amniotic fluid that surrounds an unborn baby in a woman’s placenta. This substance has a natural therapeutic healing power that develops babies in the womb, and can aid the healing of the eye’s surface to repair itself in the same way.
How Do Amniotic Membranes Get From the Woman to the Eye?
When used to treat the eye, amniotic membranes are harvested from scheduled, healthy, and normal Caesarean births before which the donating mother is screened for all transmissible diseases. Then after harvesting, the amniotic membranes are again tested for any imperfections before being used to treat an ailing eye.
During the harvest, the amniotic membranes are dried and used in conjunction with anesthetic drops, saline drops, and a bandage-like contact lens that stays in place for about a week until the membranes have dissolved and helped the eye to heal.
How Do Amniotic Membranes Work?
Amniotic membranes provide a rich source of stem cells from naturally healing tissue, making them ideal for short-term grafts in many procedures. It serves two purposes during the treatment of dry eyes:
- It provides protection for the layers of the eye that are most vulnerable
- It also naturally stimulates the repair of the eye
Amniotic membrane disks are lenses for your eyes that are specially made with amniotic membranes, and these are applied to your eyes by an eye doctor with flexible plastic rings in a quick, simple, and painless procedure. The amniotic membrane disks are gently placed beneath your eyelids, covering the front surface of your eyes. Harmless numbing drops are used to minimize discomfort, which is common for most elements of eye treatment.
After the amniotic membrane disks are inserted, your eye doctor will help you keep your eyes closed with the aid of gauze to protect the disks and expedite their healing effects on your eyes. Throughout the next several days, your eyes will absorb the membranes and begin the regenerative repair process. The plastic rings are removed after roughly a week when the membrane is completely absorbed.
Is Amniotic Membrane Treatment Safe?
Amniotic membrane treatment for issues with the cornea and conjunctiva is completely safe and has been used regularly in the United States since the late 1990s. Dr. David Johnson at RMO Eyecare next to Ragsdale & Martin Optical in Tyler uses this treatment for his East Texas patients and has for many years prior when he was with NASA.
If you have questions about amniotic membrane treatment, call RMO Eyecare at (903) 593-2345 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson online at tylereyeexam.com