What is SLET?
SLET is a surgery performed when the clear cornea of the eye no longer heals properly. The cornea is the clear tissue in the front of the eye that helps focus light and helps us see. The cornea is made of multiple layers with the surface layer being the epithelium. The epithelial layer is constantly being replenished via stem cells located on the margin (limbus) of the cornea near the sclera (white portion of the eye).
In certain conditions such as autoimmune conditions, infection, trauma, or even from contact lens use the limbal stem cells can be damaged making it difficult for the eye to heal. This results in clouding and poor healing of the cornea which can lead to blindness.
In 2014, SLET was introduced in the United States to help patients with these difficult to treat conditions. Utilizing stem cells from the patient's other healthy eye, SLET can re-establish a healthy surface to the eye and return vision back to patients.
Advantages of SLET?
Compared to traditional transplants that take tissue from donors (living or deceased) there is no risk for rejection of the transplant making it much easier to manage after surgery and leads to a higher long term succcess rate. Prior to SLET options for these difficult to treat conditions were limited.