Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a strange disease. It's actually a rare allergic problem. In most cases, the skin and even the lining covering the eyes are affected by sort of drying out. Even the tear ducts can become scarred and closed off leading to severely dry eyes, which ultimately can lead to impaired vision, even blindness. Now, here's what's new. Doctors at Washington University School of medicine in St. Louis have performed what they say is the first procedure in the country that transplants a salivary gland from under the jaw to the eye, improving vision as moisture returns to the eye.
"We then made a small incision in the lining of the eye and attached the duct so that the secretions would spill out onto the surface of the eye." "On the right side, this stuff is missing because it's up here. As soon as we got the artery and vein connected and let them flow, we saw saliva coming down that little duct. So we knew it was going to work right then," says Randal Paniello M.D. an Otolaryngologist at Washington University in St. Louis.
For the patient, Roger Beck, this means he may have a chance to see his children for the first time. Now that his eyes have moisture again, a second surgery to receive a new lens can restore his vision. The new saliva transplant has been done on patients in four other countries already and so far, it has shown a 90 percent success rate.