Restoring Retinas
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Eye Jelly RepairNorbert, you know we have to do these every once in a while… the senior episodes. I can’t even disagree with you anymore since the aches and pains are just piling on! So this time we’re talking about retinal detachment which can happen the older we get. The good news is there’s a new gel being developed that improves the outcome of surgeries to repair torn retinas.

When light shines into our eyes, it passes through the cornea, aqueous humor, lens, and something called vitreous body which maintains the shape of our eyes. The vitreous body consists of a clear jelly-like substance that transmits light to the retina in the back of the eye. It also presses on the retina to keep it together.

With age, the vitreous can start to liquefy and lose structure which pulls on the retina, risking a tear and detachment. The problem with the existing treatment is that it replaces the vitreous body with either a gas or oil but each carries its own complications.

The new gel, however, seems to be biocompatible and retains vision. They start with two types of star-shaped polymers each with a unique reactive chemical group on the ends. In separate reactions, they allow both polymers to start the reactions to create a gel but stop the process before it’s complete. Then they mixed the two types of polymers together, injected them into rabbit eyes and let the polymerization go to completion.

The rabbit’s repaired retinas stayed attached for over four hundred days. Not only were there no side effects, the gel didn’t alter vision. They still need to work out issues such as whether the gel is easily removable and will remain stable and clear for years.

For more information…

Biomedicine: An improved gel for detached retinas
Surgical repair of a detached retina involves the injection of a gas or silicone oil into the eye to hold the retina in place. The development of a gel with more-desirable properties than these substances might improve the success of this procedure...

Retinal detachment repair
Retinal detachment repair is eye surgery to place a retina back into its normal position. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. Detachment means that it has pulled away from the layers of tissue around it. This article describes the repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments. These occur due to a hole or tear in the retina...

Fast-forming hydrogel with ultralow polymeric content as an artificial vitreous body
Degradation-induced swelling in implanted hydrogels can cause severe adverse reactions in surrounding tissues. Here, we report a new class of hydrogel with extremely low swelling pressure, and demonstrate its use as an artificial vitreous body...