Acute chemicals injuries to the eye or Stephen Johnson syndrome can both severely affect the surface of the eye. Chemical injuries include Acid burns, alkali burns or contact with any other corrosive substance. When chemical injuries occur, treatment must be given immediately or else the patient may risk permanent damage to the eye.
The treatment for chemical burns is a complex procedure and must be carried out by a skilled medical professional and in a hospital with adequate infrastructure. For instance, in the case of a chemical burn to the eye, a normal bandage made of gauze and cotton cannot be used. In these cases the surface of the eye is too delicate and has to bandaged using a human amniotic membrane. Amniotic membranes are harvested with consent from women who have had caesarean deliveries and been tested for HIV. The membrane is a very thin curtain like bandage and needs to be placed with high precision and accuracy. The surgery becomes highly complex because of the delicate nature of the eye and membrane. Also the patient’s eye is usually swollen and he or she would have lost a lot blood. Therefore, it is imperative to place the bandage as soon as possible and with great accuracy. Moreover in the case of chemical burns and Stephen Johnson Syndrome the patient is not in a condition to be taken to the Operation Theatre and entire procedure has to be conducted at the hospital bed.
The Calcutta Medical Research Institute in collaboration with IIT Kharagpur have devised a machine that willenable precise and accurate harvesting and placement of the amniotic membrane on the eye. While the machine has been successfully tested to harvest the membrane it has not been tested for placement in the eye yet. CMRI is awaiting a green signal from the ethics committee and will start tests as soon as that is available. They are also awaiting a patent on the machine.
In a country where acid attacks are still unfortunately common this machine will a great medical invention to help victims of these attacks by providing the best medical treatment.