WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — For Mia Ekbergh, every stroke of her paintbrush gives meaning to her life.
“This is my main means of expression,” Ekbergh explained.
But last year, that changed when her vision started going fuzzy.
“Basically I could see movement and i could see colors, but it would fade after a while,” she recalled.
A decade ago, Ekbergh suffered a severe infection in her left eye, leaving her in need of a corneal transplant. But her body rejected one operation after another. In total, five corneal transplants failed.
“I had given up the possibility of ever being able to ever really see out of that eye,” she said.
That’s when Ekbergh met Lorenzo Cervantes, M.D., an ophthalmologist at OptiCare in Waterbury. He’s one of only two doctors in Connecticut board certified to perform a special type of corneal transplant.
“It’s official name is the Boston Keratoprosthesis,” Dr. Cervantes said.
Or KPro for short.
“Without options like this, that eye really wouldn’t have any long term hope,” he explained.
While traditional corneal transplants involve removing a diseased cornea and replacing it with a donor cornea, the KPro procedure takes it one step further — by also implanting an artificial lens.
“The clear lens that we implant into the cornea is what the patient ultimately will see through,” Dr. Cervantes said.
The KPro lens is made of several parts that are attached to the donor cornea just before surgery…
“Each prosthetic cornea is specially made for each individual patient,” explained Dr. Cervantes.
The device is then sewn into the patient’s eye and a contact lens is placed on it for protection.
For Ekberg, changes were seen immediately.
“I love it when we’re able to take off the patch the day after surgery and the patient is smiling and they realize what they had slowly lost,” Dr. Cervantes said.
“I said, ‘Is there a bruise?’ and then I said, ‘Oh my god I can see!’ and it was a miracle. I was like, ‘This can’t even be happening!’” Ekberg recalled.
For the rest of her life, Ekberg will need to see a doctor once a month to change her contact and make sure everything looks okay. She also needs to use drops daily. But for her, that’s a small price to pay for what she’s gained.
“It’s a part of me that felt like it was suffocated and it’s back because of the miracle that Dr. Cervantes performed,” Ekberg said. “He definitely is an angel to me – and angel of hope.”
Hope for an artist with a vision.
For more information about the procedure visit opticarepc.com or call 1-800-CALL-EYE.