Corneal transplants made easier?

Southern Pines, NC-According to a study published in the October issue of Cornea, authored by a team of surgeons, a new surgical procedure may decrease the occurrence of corneal transplant rejection.

Southern Pines, NC-Four eye centers worldwide, including a practice in North Carolina, examined the rejection rate of two types of corneal transplant surgery. According to a study published in the October issue of Cornea, authored by a team of surgeons, a new surgical procedure may decrease the occurrence of corneal transplant rejection.

"This is a major advancement in the treatment of conditions affecting the cornea," said Neil B. Griffin, MD, Carolina Eye Associates, Southern Pines, NC. "Until recently there has been one procedure to repair the cornea when endothelial cell loss occurs. This new procedure, which replaces the innermost layers of the cornea, rather than the entire cornea, results in a faster recovery."

During the 30-minute procedure the damaged cells are replaced with new donor cells through a small incision. With penetrating keratoplasty there are no sutures in the cornea, which lessens the risk of complications, according to Dr. Griffin. Long-term topical steroid drops may also decrease the number of rejections or graft failures.

"Patients have a faster visual recovery with this procedure because the cornea is left intact," Dr. Griffin said. "We usually have patients back into eyeglasses within 2 to 3 months versus a very prolonged wait of at least a year when the traditional procedure is used.

"The eye is much stronger and more resistant to injury since only the diseased tissue is removed and the chance of rejection is reduced significantly," Dr. Griffin said. ?This technique is the procedure of choice when there is damage to the endothelial cells. We still use the full-thickness procedure when it is necessary, but this technique gives us a great option that offers a faster recovery for our patients."