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September 15, 1978

Scientists urged to hold firm to eye transplant goal

JAMA. 1978;240(12):1227. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290120021007

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Obstacles to transplanting an entire human eye are formidable, but an advisory council to the National Eye Institute urges researchers to keep trying.

Proposing a national plan for vision research through 1982, the council says: "No successful eye transplant ever has been done in a mammal, nor is there any near-term prospect for success. However, the subject is of such overriding clinical importance that it merits research attention."

In calling for a "limited and thoughtful laboratory effort" in this area, the 17-member council delineates the current problems: "At present, any effort to transplant a mammalian eye is doomed to failure by the ganglion cell axon's inability to withstand cutting, by the difficulty of insuring adequate circulation of blood to the transplanted eye during or shortly after operation, and lastly by immune rejection of foreign tissue."

Research into retinal regeneration should be another long-term objective, the council advises. "Although something is