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Harvard & MIT
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The Story of the Amniotic Membrane Contact Lens

Ming Wang, MD, PhD
Harvard & MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics)
Director, Wang Vision 3D Cataract & LASIK Center
Clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Tennessee
1801 West End Ave, Ste 1150, Nashville, TN, 37203, 615-321-8881

May 13th, 2012 was Mother's Day and I wanted to share an incredible story about a mother's tremendous gift. The gift stems from believing that science and faith CAN in fact find a way to work together, that God has created this world, and that it is without contradictions.

It all started sixteen years ago when I was a student and began the original research on amniotic membrane grafts, and then published a paper, obtained two U.S. patents for AMC (Nos. 5,932,205 and 6,143,315), and furthered this research for years. Now, sixteen years later, it has finally become a commercially available product (AMCL), and the AMCL procedure is covered by Medicare and all other insurance companies (CPT code is 65778). Over 500 U.S. eye doctors have used the AMCL, and a large number of patients have had their sight restored!

This is the story of persistence, of believing that science and faith CAN find a way to work together, of believing in God, and that no matter how difficult things are in our lives, God has a plan for us. He wants us to conduct research, to advance medicine and improve the quality of human lives. BUT, He wants us to do it the right way, His way…

… this is the story of motherhood, of not only giving birth to a child, but also giving a special gift to mankind…

….this is the story of amniotic membrane and the amniotic membrane contact lens.

As I noted earlier, the story begins when I was a student conducting research and trying to figure out how we, as doctors, can reduce corneal scarring following eye injury and at the same time, restore sight.

I found that when an adult's eye is injured, it heals slowly and with a (corneal) scar, which causes blindness.

However, when a child’s eye is injured, it heals much faster. A fetus heals the FASTEST, and it can do something that no other human eye can do: regenerate and heal without scarring!

I really wanted to understand why a fetus has this ability, so that we can apply what we learn to children and adults and help them heal with similar outcomes!

But, how can we understand how a fetus heals without touching the baby?

- Do we do (fetal wound-healing) research, without protecting the fetus (which is a human life)?

- Or, do we go to the other extreme and not do research at all? If we do that, we will never be able to understand the magic of the fetal wound-healing process, and help other human beings reduce scarring and restore sight following injury.

This is a powerful example of the conflict that rages between science and faith.

Has God really created such a seemingly contradictory world, with a conflict between science and faith that never seems to resolve?

The Bible says in James 1:4, that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.”

I realized that God wants us to persevere, to believe in Him, and to believe that the world He has created is not in fact contradictory, and that He does have a solution that advances science and maintains our moral and ethical Christian principles.

I realized that God never says that the right pathway to truth is going to be easy. In fact, He tells us that it will be difficult, and that is why He wants us to be tenacious and persevere.

I realized that a true test of our Christina faith is not whether we can maintain our faith and belief in Him when things are good in our lives. Rather, it is whether we can maintain our faith and belief in Him when things are dark and appear to be hopeless with no resolution in sight.

I persisted. I was determined to solve this problem, and spent many days and nights in the laboratory believing that God would somehow open a door for us to continue the (fetal wound-healing) research and still allow us not to harm any part of the growing baby.

We stumbled upon a unique piece of tissue, the amniotic membrane, which connects and surrounds the fetus (and has the same biological wound-healing property as the baby), but, it is NOT a part of a baby!  Moreover, the amniotic membrane is usually discarded (along with the placenta) following the birth of the child! I went to an obstetric ward and started collecting amniotic membranes donated by mothers who had given birth and transplanted them onto injured eyes.

We recreated the fetal-like environment by placing the amniotic membranes on injured eyes and then the magic happened: the eyes started regenerating without scarring!

We were tapping the fountain of youth and doing it the right way, God’s way!

One week later, we removed the amniotic membranes and miracles began happening right before our eyes—instead of seeing a scarred and blind eye, we saw a clear eye with vision!

We published the first scientific paper demonstrating laboratory success, corneal scar reduction and restoration of vision with amniotic membrane transplantation.

While our research team celebrated the scientific discovery (that amniotic membrane reduces corneal scar and restores sight), which I felt was gratifying, even more important to me was that it was validation from God that He wants scientists to continue research, but He wants us to do it in the right way, in His way! He wants us to use this unique piece of tissue, the amniotic membrane, that is connected to a baby (so it has the same biological wound-healing ability), but it is not a part of the baby. God wants us to understand the magic of scarless fetal wound-healing through the use of amniotic membrane and help other human beings see, all without harming the baby!

My research truly convinced me that God created this world and it is indeed without contradiction! He showed us that we CAN do research and advance science and improve the quality of human lives, and at the same time, maintain our moral and ethical principles (i.e. not harmunborn children)!

Following this discovery, we invented a non-surgical delivery system for the amniotic membrane—the amniotic membrane contact lens—and were granted a U.S. patent. Doctors can now cover injured eyes with the amniotic membrane without sutures and the risk and pain associated with a surgical procedure.

We developed the prototype of the world’s first amniotic membrane contact lens and then licensed the patent to a company called IOP, Inc. A few months ago, sixteen years after our original idea of the amniotic membrane contact lens, we were successful and produced the world’s first batch of commercially available amniotic membrane contact lens in November 2011!

Since then, over 500 U.S. eye doctors have used this amniotic membrane contact lens and a large number of patients have had their sight restored!

Amniotic membrane contact lenses have become one of the fastest growing products in the eye reconstructive surgery industry in the world today!

This is a story, of believing….

… that science and faith CAN find a way to work together.

...  no matter how difficult things seem to be, God has a plan for us and a solution.

… that He has created this world and it is without contradictions.

… that God wants us to conduct research and still maintain our moral and ethical principles as Christians.

… that God wants us to understand the magic of the scarless wound-healing process of a fetus and use it to benefit children and adults to help restore sight following injury and without harming an unborn child. God has given us a unique opportunity to perform research and He wants us to use this unique piece of tissue, the amniotic membrane…

… this is the story of mothers not only giving birth to a child, but also giving a special gift to all…

….this is the story of the amniotic membrane and the amniotic membrane contact lens.


AmbioDisk amniotic membrane contact lens (AMCL):


U.S. Patent Nos. 5,932,205 and 6,143,315, Wang and Adams.


Click here to return to the AMCL page.


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