Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 13:36 UK

Pioneering eye op for schoolboy

Cornea exam
The condition is relatively common in adults but not in children

A boy whose sight had deteriorated so badly he could no longer play rugby is making good progress after undergoing pioneering surgery.

The corneas in Daniel Beresford's eyes changed shape due to a degenerative disorder known as Keratoconus.

The 11-year-old from Sketty in Swansea has had special implants inserted by eye expert Mohammed Muhtaseb at the city's Singleton Hospital.

He said the case had interested eye surgeons around the world.

Daniel's father Richard said when his son first started developing problems with his eyes about three years ago it was initially put down to some bad bouts of hayfever.

But a visit to a local opticians found that the problem was far worse and the pain he was suffering was having a big impact on his life day-to-day.

"It was a very upsetting time but it came to a stage when we needed to take action," he added.

"Daniel was having difficulty seeing written work at school and had a number of absences because the condition was worsening."

Mr Muhtaseb said Keratoconus had been changing the shape of Daniel's corneas - the transparent front part of the eye - which meant they were becoming shaped like a rugby ball rather than a football.

"The condition is relatively common in adults but not in children," said the consultant ophthalmologist.

Mohammed Muhtaseb
The latest checks show he's making good progress
Mohammed Muhtaseb

"The concern was that scans of the cornea were showing marked deterioration, meaning the cornea was becoming increasingly pointed."

Implants called IntraCorneal Ring Segments (INTACS) are sometimes used to treat adults but had never been used for a child in the UK, and there were very few cases worldwide, said Mr Muhtaseb.

"It wasn't an intervention I wanted to make in the early stages because there's so little experience of using INTACS in children."

"But his sight had deteriorated so much it was almost essential.

"When colleagues overseas gave a positive reply to the treatment plan I'd put together I decided to go ahead with Daniel's surgery."

The implants - which look like a small ring in two halves and cost about £500 for a pair - are placed in the cornea to thicken the periphery and flatten the pointed tip.

It is hoped the cornea will move back to a normal shape and the eyesight will be corrected and prevented from further damage.

The operation took just 20 minutes to complete for each eye.

Daniel was back home just hours afterwards and will be regularly monitored at the hospital.

Mr Muhtaseb added: "The procedure went well. Within three weeks Daniel's vision was back to almost driving standard and the latest checks show he's making good progress."

Daniel's eyes have interested eye surgeons from across the globe.

Mr Muhtaseb has already given a lecture on the case to a group of consultants at an event in London.

Daniel said he was now looking forward to playing rugby again.

"My eyes feel much better but I'm still quite sensitive to bright lights at the moment.

"As soon as I get my eyes better I'll be back playing - I can't wait."

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