Abu Dhabi: Corneal surgery has been performed successfully in various government and private hospitals in the UAE capital over the last few years, officials said on Sunday.

This has restored eyesight to dozens of Emiratis, including Khulood Mohammad Sultan, 28, who was born with a weak right eye and wore lenses for most of her life until she started to feel something was seriously wrong.

"My left eye is 6/6; it's always been one eye that was weak. Two years ago, I started to feel there were no lenses in the world that could help me differentiate between colours, I felt I was going blind," she told Gulf News.

During a visit to her doctor, Khulood found out her right eye required a cornea transplant, and she decided to undergo surgery at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), the only government hospital that performs corneal transplant surgery in the emirate.

The operation lasted about two hours and Khulood went home the next day.

"I see perfectly well since my surgery," she said.

Similar operations have also been performed for various conditions such as keratoconus (a degenerative disorder of the eye); corneal dystrophies and scarring. Keratoconus was the main reason for corneal transplants representing up to 70 per cent of cases performed in Abu Dhabi, said Dr Saleh Saif Al Mosabi, Corneal Transplant Surgeon at SKMC.

With the initiation of a multi-organ transplantation programme in June 2007, corneas were available for patients in the capital city and enabled 55 patients between the ages of 3 to 63 to undergo corneal transplants, 60 per cent of whom were men.

"In the past, patients who needed corneal transplants travelled abroad and patients spent two to three months away from home. Now we are able to treat patients in the UAE which results in less suffering and inconvenience," said Dr Al Mosabi.

Corneas are currently being shipped from the USA under strict procedures to ensure their sterility.