Amniotic Membrane

amniotic membrane

The use of amniotic membrane in medicine is not a new development. In fact, human placental membranes were first used in the early 1900s when they were used as skin substitutes. It was then first used in ophthalmology in 1940 when it was used to treat an ocular burn. It was not until the 1900s, when it became possible to more easily process and store it, making the technique popular again.

Over the last 25 years, human amniotic membrane has shown to be an effective treatment for some types of conjunctival and corneal disease. As a result, amniotic membrane transplantation is now a widely adopted technique in the field of eye surface diseases.

What is amniotic membrane?

amniotic lens

Amniotic membrane is harvested from placental tissues obtained during elective cesarean sections. Donors are screened for transmissible diseases and the membrane is then treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics immediately following collection.

There are many different layers to amniotic membrane, most of which contain bioactive factors which prove beneficial in wound treatment. These include collagen, cell-adhesion bioactive factors and growth factors. Together, these have a range of positive effects including anti-inflammation, anti-microbial, anti-scarring, analgesic, and cell adhesion.

​​​​​​​Here are some of the ways in which amniotic membrane can be successfully used in ophthalmology.

Amniotic membrane as a graft

When used as a graft, amniotic membrane provides the scaffold for re-epithelialization. What this means is that it is a foundation that skin can grow onto in cases where tissue has been lost. It also provides an anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring effect that minimizes the build-up of scar tissue which is important to avoid thickened skin that could inhibit proper eyelid movement and the distribution of tears across the eyes.

​​​​​​​Situations in which amniotic membrane could be highly effective as a graft include the removal of a Pterygium or surgery for corneal perforation or ulcers (also known as keratitis, and which can occur after injury to the cornea, in people with eyelid disorders that prevent proper functioning of the eyelid, and in people with severe amongst dry eyes).

Amniotic membrane as protection

Amniotic membrane provides a physical barrier which can be used to protect the conjunctival and corneal epithelium as it heals following an injury or surgical procedure, reducing the risk of infection developing. At the same time, the membrane will also promote regrowth of the epithelium.

Amniotic membrane for chemical burns

Amniotic membrane has an anti-inflammatory effect that is particularly valuable for people who have suffered from chemical burns. When you suffer from a chemical burn to the eyes. It’s normal to experience inflammation that lasts for between two and three weeks, after which time patients can be left with substantial scarring. Amniotic membrane has been proven to suppress inflammation and prevent scarring.

Amniotic membrane for pain relief

When amniotic membrane is used to cover inflamed or exposed areas on the eye, it can help to cover nerve endings. This helps to reduce the levels of discomfort or pain that the patient is experiencing, making the healing process easier to tolerate.

​​​​​​​If you would like more information about the use of amniotic membrane in ophthalmology, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your eye concerns with the professionals at Progressive Ophthalmology. Call 718-565-2020 today!