Corneal Transplant Not Hurt by Long Preservation Time

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) — The chance that a corneal transplant will fail is not affected by the age of the donor, the length of time that the transplanted cornea was preserved or the method of preservation, according to a new study.

The finding came from a study that included 388 people who were followed for up to 20 years after a corneal transplant. During that time, 83 of the grafts failed, including 26 because of late endothelial failure — an increasing thickness and loss of clarity of the cornea.

During the follow-up period, endothelial cell density of transplanted corneas decreased an average of 74 percent. The study found no additional cell loss between 15 and 20 years of follow-up. And, the risk for graft failure was lower in people diagnosed with keratoconus (a degenerative disorder in which the cornea becomes cone-shaped) than in those with endothelial dysfunction (a decrease in the number or performance of endothelial cells), said Dr. Sanjay V. Patel, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and his colleagues.

Donor corneas with lower endothelial cell density before transplant and higher endothelial cell loss two months after transplant were associated with late endothelial failure among people with endothelial dysfunction but not keratoconus.

The time between donor death and corneal transplant was not found to affect risk, nor was the way donor corneas were preserved.

“The findings in our study provide additional evidence that increased death-to-transplant time has no effect on graft failure, which is important information for surgeons who import donor tissue or accept donor tissue with extended preservation times,” the researchers wrote.

The study is published in the April issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

More information

The Eye Bank Association of America has more about corneal transplantation.