Medical Breakthroughs: Eye Glue

BACKGROUND: In usual eye surgery, stitches are traditionally sewn in to hold new tissue in place. Surgeons do their stitching through a microscope.

The stitches can distort eye tissue and vision can be bent and distorted. In other words, the stitches interfere with the quality of vision.

When taken out, the stitches can cause scarring that permanently distorts. Previous glues that were used in eye surgery were similar to plastics that did not allow nutrients to flow through the transplanted tissue, so it would subsequently die.

NEW PROCEDURE: Eye glue was originally developed to seal leaking blood vessels that were sewn together in surgery. In use in eye surgery, it glues tissue to tissue.

The glue is a mixture of fibrin and other substances that keep it from quickly dissolving. Fibrin is a natural human protein that causes blood to clot. When mixed with substances that keep it from dissolving too quickly, it becomes sticky like jelly. The glue is squirted underneath new tissue and holds the tissue in place.

Louisiana State University Medical School Professor of Ophthalmology Herbert Kaufman, M.D., says, "But it does more than hold it on. It lets the necessary substances, the food the tissue needs, pass back and forth and fluids pass back and forth. Finally it disappears after the body has done its healing part. So the glue is almost ideal in holding the tissue together and letting the tissue metabolize and eat properly because fluids are exchanged and then goes away."


  • No stitches to be removed
  • Nutrients can pass through the glue feeding the donor tissue
  • No discomfort
  • Doesn't distort vision
  • No toxicity or allergies, generally well tolerated

OTHER USES: Dr. Kaufman says the glue can be used any time tissue needs to adhere to tissue, for instance in skin grafts for burn victims. It can also be used for other eye surgeries such as cornea replacement, glaucoma, and cataract removal.

"I think adhesives will revolutionize not only eye surgery but other kinds of surgery," said Dr. Kauffman.

DRAWBACKS: Doctors are unsure how long the adhesion lasts and how much "pulling" glued tissues can take. The glue dries within a minute so preciseness is essential.

COST: Dr. Kaufman says the glue costs more than stitches, but he adds, "I think this adhesive is just the beginning of adhesives and glues that will be better."


Leslie Capo
LSU Health Sciences Center Information Services
433 Bolivar Street, Room 816B
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4806

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