Imported corneas offer more opportunities for patients who require corneal transplants in Vietnam to regain their sight

After FV Hospital introduced its corneal transplant service using imported corneas from a corneal bank in the US, Prof. Donald Tan has successfully performed hundreds of corneal transplants in Vietnam. This development has provided a significant opportunity for patients with corneal diseases to avoid blindness.

A patient’s bumpy road to restoring their vision

For many years, Mr Vu Anh Minh (66 years old, living and working in Quang Ninh) has suffered from eye pain, itchy eyes, red eyes, watery eyes, and light sensitivity.

He visited a doctor who concluded that Mr Anh Minh had cataracts. Mr Minh under cataract surgery, but continued to feel eye discomfort and pain, and felt constantly as though something was stuck in his eyes.

Prof. Donald Tan (right) performs surgery at FV Hospital 

Mr Minh returned for another check-up, and the doctor concluded that he had a corneal abrasion in his right eye and needed a corneal transplant to restore his vision. Mr Minh registered at many hospitals but did not find a suitable cornea. The corneal abrasion gradually formed a scar which grew over time. Over time, everything looked more and more cloudy.

The patient’s eyesight returned after 14 years of searching for the cornea

Over the course of 14 years, Mr Minh visited many places to try to restore his eyesight, but without success. It was not until March 23, 2023, that Mr. Minh’s prayers were answered and he received a successful corneal transplant performed by Prof. Donald Tan at FV Hospital using imported corneas from a US-based cornea bank.

Another patient, Mr Dinh Viet Dung, suffered from vision loss due to cataracts. He was born in 1966 and worked as a doctor at a hospital in Can Tho. Mr Dung received treatment through the placement of multifocal lenses in his eyes, but after a month, his right eye was unable to focus and objects became blurry. The doctor diagnosed him with a deviation of the glass axis which had caused corneal abrasions in his right eye and recommended a corneal transplant to restore his vision.

Mr Dung struggled to find opportunities for corneal transplantation until he was introduced to FV Hospital’s corneal transplant service by some colleagues in Ho Chi Minh City. Fortunately, Prof. Donald Tan was able to restore his vision.

Mr Dung shared that without this service, he would have had to wait a long time or travel to Singapore for treatment at a high cost. “I am a lucky person,” he said. “From the time I developed corneal abrasions to the time I had a suitable cornea for a transplant, it only took 10 months.”

Patients’ ability to see improves immediately after corneal transplant surgery

After undergoing corneal transplant surgery at FV Hospital, both patients were overjoyed to find that their vision had been immediately restored. Mr Viet Dung was excited to share that his eyesight was improving every day.

Prof. Donald Tan is delighted with Mr. Dung’s spectacular recovery (left) after his corneal transplant

Prof. Donald Tan explained: “In cases of corneal disease that require a transplant, the longer the condition is left untreated, the more severely damaged the cornea becomes. For patient Viet Dung, the duration of his disease was short so he only needed a partial transplant; partial transplants also have a lower rate of rejection. Due to the extended period patient Anh Minh had lived with his disease, he had to have a total corneal transplant.”

Prof. Donald Tan emphasises that eye care after corneal transplant surgery is very important. For the cornea to adapt well to the eye and for the patient to recover their vision, patients must follow their doctor’s instructions, regularly use eye drops, and avoid carrying heavy loads. Patients also need to be re-examined so that their condition can be monitored and the degree of rejection of the transplanted cornea can be checked.

FV Hospital develops corneal transplant and refractive surgery

According to statistics, every year in Vietnam, corneal diseases cause approximately 15,000 new cases of blindness. Unfortunately, the number of corneas donated to the domestic Eye Bank at the National Institute Of Ophthalmology is very limited, fewer than 1,000 per year, so for many patients the path to regaining their sight is extremely challenging. Many people have to seek treatment abroad, which can be very expensive.

Since 2016, FV Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology and Refractive Surgery has been providing corneal transplant services by Prof. Donald Tan, a founding member of the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). This service has given many patients in Vietnam access to regaining their vision at a reasonable cost.

Prof. Donald Tan

Prof. Donald Tan is the world’s leading expert in the treatment of eye diseases, especially those related to the cornea. He is considered a master at applying complex and advanced corneal transplant techniques to help patients restore their vision, including lamellar corneal transplant, partial corneal transplant, and intraocular tooth implantation.

Prof. Tan is recognised as one of the top 20 eye surgeons in the world and ranks third on the list of the top 100 most influential people in modern ophthalmology by The Ophthalmologist Power List (UK). He has led the Singapore Eye Bank as Chief Medical Officer since 1993 and has directly performed over 4,000 corneal transplants in Singapore.

To book an appointment for an examination and corneal transplant at FV, please contact the Department of Ophthalmology and Refractive Surgery, FV Hospital: (028) 5411 3333, extension 2000.