The cornea locates in the front of the eye provides most of the eye’s refractive power. The main reasons for vision loss are cataracts as well as corneal diseases. More than 60,000 corneal transplants are performed annually in the world, while 10 million people are exposed to corneal blindness. The cornea is formed by periodic positioning of 20 nm thick collagen fibers in a transparent proteoglycan matrix positioned parallel to each other.
The project aims to develop a transparent composite material which allows the regeneration of corneal tissue cells by imitating the extracellular layer of the cornea. Moreover, given importance and high attention to the selection of low-cost fabrication method of the composite material which is non- hazardous for human health.
In this project, the fiber diameter of approximately 150 nm GelMa hydrogel fibers was prepared by the electrospinning technique, the obtained fibers were combined with HEMA monomer by
drop-casting and polymerized by photopolymerization method to obtain transparent composite material. The swelling rate of the composite material is 79.8% and its light transmittance at 500 nm is 66%. The cell culture experiments performed by cow corneal endothelial cells showed that the cells could attach the material. In Turkey, the cost of the material for a sample is 0.543 TL. The average cost per patient for corneal transplant is $2,000. These data show the importance of the project and that the method may lead to the production of fibrous biomimetic structures such as tendons.
Keywords: Biomimetic, Electrospinning, GelMa hydrogel, Cornea.