• Keratoconus affects 2.7% of people in the UAE, which is 54% higher than the global average1
  • Dr. Esmaeil states early diagnosis and treatment essential to preserving patient’s vision

Abu Dhabi, UAE: A Moorfields Eye Hospital ophthalmologist has performed a life-changing surgery on a 23-year-old patient after diagnosing him with a progressive eye disease that is prevalent in Middle Eastern communities.

Mogemad Osama, an Ajman University student from Palestine who plans to become a dentist, struggled for years with devastating vision loss which caused him to change his prescription glasses multiple times. After deciding that he needed to seek help, Mogemad was referred to Dr. Esmaeil Arbabi at Moorfields Eye Hospital, a Mubadala Health partner.

He feared he would not be able to realize his dream of practicing dentistry. “My career depends on two things: my eyes and my hands,” he said. “When I first started having problems with my vision, it was a huge disappointment for me. But I never give up.”

Mogemad was soon diagnosed with Keratoconus, which affects the structure of the cornea and gradually causes blurred vision that cannot be corrected with glasses. According to a recent study, while the disease affects only one in 2,000 people worldwide, the prevalence of the disease in the UAE is 2.7 percent, which is 54 percent higher than the global average.1 The condition also impacts both men and women and typically stabilizes by the time people reach their 30s, although by then serious damage could have been caused.

According to Dr. Esmaeil, who has treated a number of cases of Keratoconus, the cause of the disease is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors could play a role. Osama’s father had surgery several years ago for the same condition.

Instead of opting for a corneal transplant, Dr. Esmaeil performed a minimally invasive surgery, called cross-linking, combined with a sophisticated laser treatment on Mogemad’s left eye. The advanced laser reshapes the cornea and smoothens the irregularities caused by Keratoconus. This will then be immediately followed by the application of Vitamin B eyedrops and shining of an ultraviolet light on the eye. The procedure only takes just 15 minutes to complete and has a 95 percent chance in stopping the progression of the disease.

“Early diagnosis and early treatment are absolutely essential,” said Dr. Esmaeil. “If we catch this early enough, we can treat it so that it’s like nothing has happened at all. But if you delay, there’s a risk of a lifetime wearing hard, rigid contact lenses, or ultimately requiring a corneal transplant. It could lead to a poor quality of life for the rest of your life.”

“Before the procedure I was experiencing double vision; it wasn’t clear at all,” said Mogemad. “But 10 days after, everything in my left eye was back to normal. I even returned to university and started to work again. It would be fair to say that my career has been saved by Dr. Esmaeil and the great staff at Moorfields.”

The main symptoms of keratoconus are gradual worsening of vision and frequent need for changing eyeglasses.

“If you have these symptoms, see a corneal specialist or ophthalmologist,” stressed Dr. Esmaeil, who is working to raise awareness about the disease as it can require a specialist familiar with the disease, rather than a general optometrist. He also warns anyone experiencing these symptoms against eye rubbing, which can make Keratoconus worse.


About Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre officially opened in 2016 at Abu Dhabi Marina Village and is the first Moorfields medical facility to be launched by a local partner and is the second facility in the UAE, following the opening of Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai in 2007.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre in Abu Dhabi is the result of a partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), a healthcare development and investment Company in Abu Dhabi. Moorfields Eye Hospital in London was founded over 200 years ago and is the oldest and one of the largest centres for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in the world.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre in Abu Dhabi provides a comprehensive range of specialist ophthalmological services, including surgical and non-surgical treatments for common and complex eye conditions in children and adults, including strabismus, glaucoma, retina (medical and surgical), oculoplastics (including cosmetic surgery around the eye), corneal and refractive (vision corrective surgery). All treatments are carried out on a day case basis. A team of highly experienced and qualified consultant ophthalmologists, many of whom trained and practiced at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, is based permanently in the UAE to provide treatment and follow up for patients, supported by medical staff and a customer services team, with advanced equipment and technology for the diagnosis and treatment of the most complex eye conditions.

About Mubadala Health

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established in 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), Amana Healthcare, National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Danat Al Emarat, HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, HealthPlus Family Clinics, HealthPlus Fertility, HealthPlus Women’s Health Center and Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.

Mubadala Health is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn with the handle: @mubadalahealth.