Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Grafts – Rejuvenation of the Corneal Surface
Cavanaugh Eye Center offers the latest treatment options to help heal and soothe the most difficult corneas
What are Amniotic Membranes / Where do They Come From?
An amniotic membrane is part of the fetal placenta. It is the tissue closest to the baby throughout development in the womb. Amniotic membrane protects the baby from any harm and it has natural therapeutic actions which help the baby develop. The placentas used to prepare amniotic membranes are donated by consenting mothers after cesarean section (C-Section) births. Mothers that donate are fully informed, have healthy lifestyles, and are tested against infectious diseases prior to donation.
How does it Work?
Amniotic membranes are rich with fetal stem cells and can function in the eye as a basement membrane substitute or as a temporary graft. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring effects and contains growth factors that promote wound healing on the surface of the eye. The fetal stem cells interact with our cornea’s limbal stem cells to enhance their health and promote proper function to enhance healing. Amniotic membrane therapy has been found to be a good alternative for corneal and conjunctival reconstruction in many clinical situations.
Who is a Candidate for Amniotic Membrane Grafts?
There are many indications for usage of an amniotic membrane. These include (but are not limited to):
- Recurrent corneal erosion
- Dry Eye Syndrome
- Persistent corneal epithelial defects
- Corneal ulcers
- Band keratopathy
- Chemical burns
- Recurrent pterygia and pingueculae
- Neurotrophic Keratitis
- Corneas with difficulty healing
Sutured Amniotic Membrane Grafts versus Prokera
You may need either a sutured amniotic membrane graft or a PROKERA® sutureless amniotic membrane depending on the reason for treatment and the severity of your ocular disease. A sutured amniotic membrane may be used in more serious cases, or when multiple layers and stability of the graft are important and is done in the Ambulatory Surgery Center.
PROKERA® is a medical device composed of an amniotic membrane mounted within a ring. Think of PROKERA® as a “living contact lens” that is placed on the surface of your eye. Similar to a sutured amniotic graft, PROKERA® provides patients a treatment option for ocular surface and corneal wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring properties. The PROKERA® procedure is done in the office minor treatment room.