Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 07:07
HK doctor offers to help blinded boy regain sight
By Andrea Deng in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong eye doctor has volunteered to help the 6-year-old mainland boy who had his eyes scooped out last week to regain sight, at least partially, by implanting artificial eyes.

Eminent eye doctor Dennis Lam Shun-chiu said on a radio program on Monday that he had sent a medical team, consisting of experts in artificial eye implants, to visit the boy — widely referred to as Binbin to protect his privacy — a few days ago.

An Indian eye doctor on the team, Fairooz Manjandavidq, who specializes in eye surgery, said they would like to ask the boy to receive treatment and eye implants in Shenzhen, where Lam’s eye hospital is located.

The surgery will cost between HK$50,000 and HK$60,000, but Lam has offered to do it for free.

 “My wife and I watched the news on TV and felt very sad about Binbin and his family’s situation ... So I want to do something for him,” Shenzhen Economic Daily quoted Lam as saying.

Lam is known as a long-time volunteer helping to eliminate cataract blindness on the mainland.

Binbin’s parents from rural areas could not afford the medical expenses, which are estimated to be 150,000 yuan ($24,500). The family’s plight has triggered an outpouring of public sympathy, with donations having reached 80,000 yuan.

The gruesome incident happened on Aug 24 outside Binbin’s Shanxi home where he was abducted and reportedly drugged by an unidentified woman. Binbin’s mother, who went looking for him, found him lying in a desolate place with eyelids turned inside out and blood covering his face.

The medical team sent to visit the 6-year-old reported that the boy’s eyes had been gouged out, with the corneas removed and his retina cells necrotized. Eyeball or cornea donations might not help him regain sight.

Lam, however, explained that Binbin’s visual system was mature and that memory remains in his visual cortex. He said current medical technology makes it possible for the boy to at least regain partial sight. The theory, in short, is to capture images with the artificial eyes and transmit that data to the visual area of the brain. 

Different methods are now being studied globally as to how to transmit image data to the brain, with the possibility that such technology will mature in three to five years, Lam said.

He added that artificial eyes will also help restore or minimize psychological harm on the boy’s loss of sight.

Doctors from Shanxi Eye Hospital and Shanxi Children’s Hospital have also considered implanting artificial eyes. But they said the decision to proceed must allow for Binbin’s young age and the level of injury to his eyes.

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