On Friday 14 October, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb visited the international corneal center of NIIOS in Rotterdam.
This independent institute focuses on innovation in ophthalmic surgery, with a focus on the cornea. The mayor was given a tour by NIIOS founder Dr. Gerrit Melles and Director of Innovation Dr. Viridiana Kocaba. He was taken through the entire chain involved in a corneal transplant, from donor to patient. The immediate reason for the visit was the prestigious Champalimaud Vision Award that Dr. Melles received last month for his innovations in the field of corneal transplants.
Guided tour of the NIIOS departments
The NIIOS corneal center (Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery) in Rotterdam comprises a unique combination of a corneal clinic, a donor tissue bank, a training and an R&D department in ophthalmology. After an introductory presentation, Mayor Aboutaleb was shown around these different departments, where he saw how surgeons, ophthalmologists, scientists, tissue specialists, biologists and students work passionately to cure and prevent corneal blindness.
For example, Dr. Melles and Dr. Kocaba showed the Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam, where donor corneas are prepared in an innovative way for transplants, after which they are used in the Melles Cornea Clinic Rotterdam, NIIOS’s corneal clinic. This included the groundbreaking DMEK technique and the self-developed ‘SurgiCube’.
DMEK is NIIOS’ groundbreaking and award-winning technique in which only the affected layer of the cornea is replaced instead of the entire cornea, which is common with conventional treatments. This not only leads to a shorter recovery period, but also reduces the risk of complications. The SurgiCube is an air system that ensures the most sterile air possible in the operating environment; crucial in microsurgical procedures.
Millions of treatments with NIIOS innovations worldwide
A NIIOS patient explained her experience with DMEK during Aboutaleb’s visit. Thanks to this technique, after 20 years of various eye operations, she was finally free of complications. She is one of more than 20 million people who have been successfully treated worldwide since its foundation in 2000 using surgical techniques and products developed by NIIOS.
These innovations come from the R&D department. Aboutaleb was taken along the research facilities and the lab, where treatment techniques are continuously improved. The core of NIIOS’ philosophy is to develop treatments that are as ‘invasive’ as possible. This is achieved with techniques such as DMEK, which increase the precision of surgical techniques so that the parts of the eye that are still healthy are subjected to as little stress as possible.
Attention was also paid to the NIIOS Academy, which has already taught more than 900 (foreign) ophthalmologists in the use of NIIOS techniques. Aboutaleb thanked those present for the welcome and tour and praised NIIOS’s commitment to improving ophthalmology. NIIOS thanked the mayor for his visit and interest.