14/08/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Tooth Implant Helped Blind Dad See His Twin Sons For First Time

Tooth implant helped blind dad see his twin sons for first time

A blind father-of-two has seen his twin sons' faces for the first time after a surgeon restored his sight using one of his TEETH.

Ian Tibbetts, 43, first damaged his eye 16 years ago when a piece of scrap metal from an oven struck him in the right eye - ripping his cornea in six places.

The wound healed and he returned to work a year later but he suffered more problems and eventually lost the sight in his right eye in 1998. Just a year later, the former forklift truck driver had lost nearly all the remaining vision in his left eye.

Before the pioneering surgery, Ian had never seen his four-year-old twins Callum and Ryan's faces - instead seeing them as blurry shapes.

But after the operation, which he had in December 2012, he can now see his children for the first time.

Recalling that moment, Ian said: "It was an incredible moment – I never thought I would ever be able to see my own children.

"I asked my wife Alex to put them in front of me so I could see them properly. They were totally different to how I imagined them. I felt like I was in heaven. I just cried and cried."

Life is completely different now for Ian, wife Alex, 35, and their twins Callum and Ryan.

He can read them stories as he puts them to bed at their home in Telford, Shropshire, and play football with them in the park.


Next week when the twins turn five Ian will see them blow out the candles on their birthday cake for the first time.


He said: "I have my independence back now and I can start looking after the kids while my wife is out at work. Before, the kids were just shapes. I couldn't make them out.

"I had to actually learn to tell them apart by their voices. I could tell whichever one it was by the way they spoke and sometimes by how quickly they moved.

"I had a picture in my head of what they looked like but they were better. I'm a bit biased there.

"The image in my mind was totally different to how they were - the features. I gave them a big hug and a kiss.

"The sight doesn't last forever so at the moment I am just taking each day as it comes and appreciating it.

"I would do anything to get some sight back. I had to try something. I said anything is better than what it was."

Ian, who lives in Telford, Shropshire, agreed to have the revolutionary surgery other all other treatments failed.

The procedure - called Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis (OOKP) - involves the reconstruction of a new eye using a tiny plastic lens and one of the patient's own teeth.

The lens is inserted into a hole drilled through the tooth, which is later implanted in the eye. And as long as the retina is still functioning, the lens then provides a new window through which the patient is able to see.

Remarkably, because the tooth belongs to the patient, the body does not reject it.

Ian's story of regaining his sight and seeing his twin boys' faces for the first time will be shown in a BBC One documentary 'The Day I Got My Sight Back'.