How NIIOS got its start

NIIOS was founded in 2000 by Dr. Gerrit Melles. In 1997, while still in medical school, Dr. Melles had a striking idea: what if you could replace just one lamella (layer) of the cornea, rather than the entire cornea, to treat diseases such as Fuchs endothelial dystrophy, keratoconus and bullous keratopathy? He was certain it could be done, for though the cornea has multiple layers, most corneal diseases affect only one of them.

Moreover, it seemed to Dr. Melles that if only that one damaged lamella was replaced, the surgery would be safer and less invasive, recovery would be faster and smoother, and the patient’s vision would more fully improve. This idea was the basis for the lamellar corneal transplantation procedures that NIIOS continues to develop and refine.

From One Organization to Four

In NIIOS’s first two years, the lamellar approach proved to work, and in 2003 Dr. Melles established a tissue bank, Amnitrans EyeBank, where donor graft tissue is prepared to make it suitable for lamellar corneal transplantations. Shortly thereafter he established Melles Cornea Clinic to perform transplantations. Over the years, NIIOS Academy and NIIOS Research & Development were added to the NIIOS family. Through the academy, NIIOS passes on all its knowledge and experience to medical specialists, ophthalmologists and other interested parties. NIIOS R&D conducts ophthalmic research and develops new transplant techniques.

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