Corneal Alterations and Neuroprotection



Many eye diseases, like corneal alterations or cataracts, have ageing as their main risk factor; consequently the antioxidants can play a very important role in its prevention or even delay its onset.     

In our group we study various alterations and pathologies of the cornea and the ocular surface and the role of techniques such as cross linking or the administration of antioxidants to improve them.  

  • Pterygium

Pterygium is an eye condition where a fibrovascular formation of triangular morphology is produced that extends from the conjunctiva to the cornea. The pterygium is more prevalent in the southern countries, especially in those around the equator, as there is greater exposure to intense solar radiation.  

Due to the progressive increase of the foreign population from countries with high prevalence of pterygium, it creates a new challenge to the study of degeneration mechanisms of the pathology to find new treatments to prevent the recurrence and minimise the effects of the disease.   

  • The use of crosslinking in the Keratoconus. Administration of antioxidant therapy

Crosslinking is a process which consists of uniting two or more molecules by means of a covalent bond. This process has been used to determine and modify the properties of the three-dimensional structures of the proteins and their association with the cell membranes, being similarly useful in the modification of the nucleic acids, chemical compounds and solid surfaces.  

Keratoconus is a corneal disease in which the cornea progressively becomes weak and the exterior curvature is modified creating an increase in the stigmatism until finally it loses its transparency due to the modification of its structure.  

Approximately half of patients with keratoconus can be cured with lenses without major problems with their vision. For others the solution is in the intracorneal stromal rings, and in the more advanced cases they require a corneal transplant.   

Recently the crosslinking of the corneal collagen with Riboflavin has been introduced as a new treatment, a treatment that strengthens the weakened corneal structure. This process acts to reinforce the bonds of the corneal collagen.

The treatment involves saturating the tissue with a substance that sensitizes the collagen, the riboflavin, stimulating the creation of new bridges or bonds between the large chains of collagen with the eradication with a special light in the ultraviolet range of a fixed wavelength (UVA 375 nm), and delivers a known energy to a certain distance (3mW/cm2), during a pre-established time (30 min).

In our group they have carried out experimental trials on rabbits through the administration combined with other agents to study the possible improvement of this alteration.  

  • Cultivation of corneal impellers

In the last few years, the advances in stem cell research in various organs and tissues of the human body have opened a field of hope for the cure of diseases.

Similarly the continuous advances in the identification of these pluripotent cells in the limbal of the human eye have been presented as the wide therapeutic hope in the new century of diseases which lead to blindness. On the other hand, the reintroduction of the amniotic membrane in Ophthalmology whose properties were recognized a year ago has lead to another revolution.  

The amniotic membrane, the innermost layer of the human placenta and is what surrounds the foetus like a bag during pregnancy, it has been shown to possess various therapeutic qualities for the treatment of eye diseases. All these properties have been supported by numerous publications and scientific forums, while others are under investigation.

The union of these two innovative treatment strategies, stem cells and amniotic membranes lead to one of the principal lines of research that our team wishes to continue through this project in the treatment of diseases of the eye surface that they are studying with potentially curable blindness.  

In our team we are developing a series of techniques to develop strategies that allow us to carry out the transplant of stem cells of cultivated corneal impellers on the amniotic membrane to observe the improvement of the clinical evolution of the ocular corrosion and limbal insufficiency from various origins.