Docs Use Tooth to Help Return Woman's Sight

By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2009 8:14 PM CDT
A tooth and bone were taken from Sharon Thornton's mouth and used to anchor an artificial cornea in her left eye, which had been blind.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Doctors in Miami have used a woman’s tooth to help restore her vision, the Los Angeles Times reports. A disease that destroyed tissue in her left eye left Sharon Thornton unable to undergo a cornea transplant, so surgeons cut a canine tooth and bone out of her upper jaw and used them as an anchor for an artificial cornea. Thornton, 60, now has sight in both eyes for the first time since 2000.

The artificial cornea was lined up with the center of her retina, and doctors made a hole in the membrane, taken from her cheek, which covered the affected eye; the lens protrudes through. Thornton was able to recognize faces within hours of the procedure earlier this month; her vision is now 20/70 and is expected to keep improving.