Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and side effects of prednisolone acetate 1% versus fluorometholone 0.1% after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK).
Methods: DMEK recipients used prednisolone acetate 1% for 1 month, and they were randomized to either prednisolone or fluorometholone for months 2 through 12. Dosing was 4 times daily in months 1 to 3, thrice daily in month 4, twice daily in month 5, and once daily in months 6 to 12. The main outcomes were immunologic rejection episodes and intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation (defined as ≥24 mm Hg or ≥10 mm Hg increase over the preoperative baseline level), assessed by the Kaplan–Meier survival analysis.
Results: The study included 325 eyes (99% were white, 96% had Fuchs dystrophy, and 9% had a previous glaucoma diagnosis). No eyes (0%) assigned to prednisolone versus 2 eyes (1.4%) assigned to fluorometholone experienced a possible (n = 1) or probable (n = 1) rejection episode (P = 0.17). Both rejection episodes resolved successfully with increased topical steroids. In the prednisolone arm, a significantly higher proportion exceeded the defined IOP elevation threshold (22% vs. 6%, P = 0.0005), and glaucoma medications were initiated or increased more often (17% vs. 5%, P = 0.0003). The most frequent reasons for discontinuing the assigned intervention were IOP management (n = 13 eyes assigned to prednisolone) or inflammation management (n = 3 eyes assigned to fluorometholone). One-year endothelial cell loss was comparable in both arms (30% vs. 31%, P = 0.50).
Conclusions: DMEK has a remarkably low rejection episode rate (<1% through 1 year), as confirmed in this prospective randomized study. This provides a unique opportunity to reduce postoperative topical corticosteroid strength and thereby reduce the risk of steroid-associated complications.