Martin Jones’s friends reckon he looks like something out of a science fiction film.
The 42-year-old has had a tooth implanted into his eye socket, allowing him to see again after 12 years in darkness.
The bizarre, groundbreaking operation took eight hours to remove one of his front teeth and transform it into a lens holder.
Martin, who was blinded when a tub of white hot aluminium exploded in his face, said: “My eye looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. My friends are amazed at it.”
The procedure means Martin has finally seen his wife Gill, 50, who he married four years ago, for the first time.
He said: “I met my wife when I was blind and the first person I wanted to see was her. The doctors took the bandages off and then I saw this figure and it was her. She’s wonderful. It was unbelievable to see her for the first time.”
Martin, of Rotherham, South Yorks, had the horrific accident when he was working in a scrapyard.
He suffered 37% burns and had his left eye removed after it was destroyed in the accident. But his right eye was saved even though he was unable to see through it.
Specialists first tried to save his sight using stem cells from a donor but the attempt failed.
It was then decided that he would be suitable for the revolutionary tooth transplant carried out by Christopher Liu, the country’s only consultant able to carry out the surgery.
Mr Liu is a corneal specialist and consultant ophthalmic surgeon based at the Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton.
The procedure, called osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis or OOKP, began when one of Martin’s canine teeth was removed.
The tooth was converted into a holder for a special optical lens by drilling a hole in it. The tooth was then inserted into Martin’s cheek for three months to enable it to grow new tissue and blood vessels.
Then finally came the delicate operation to insert the tooth, complete with the fitted lens, into Martin’s right eyeball.
Within two weeks he could see as the special lens, held in place by the tooth, allows light into his eye.
HOW THE TOOTH BECAME AN EYE
1 Martin’s canine tooth is removed. It’s converted into a holder for a special optical lens by drilling a hole through the middle
2 Tooth is then inserted into Martin’s cheek for three months to enable it to grow new tissue and blood vessels
3 Tooth and lens fitted in centre of Martin’s right eyeball