To examine the clinical relevance and pathophysiology of Boston keratoprosthesis
(B-KPro)-related corneal keratolysis
(cornea melt) and to describe a novel method of preventing corneal melt using ex vivo crosslinked cornea tissue carrier.
A review of B-KPro literature was performed to highlight cases of corneal melt. Studies examining the effect of corneal collagen cross-linking
(CXL) on the biomechanical properties of corneal tissue are summarized. The use of crosslinked corneal tissue as a carrier to the B-KPro is illustrated with a case.
Corneal melting after B-KPro is a relatively rare event, occurring in 3% of eyes during the first 3 years of postoperative follow-up. The risk of post-KPro corneal melting is heightened in eyes with chronic ocular surface inflammation such as eyes with Stevens–Johnson syndrome and mucous membrane pemphigoid. This chronic inflammation results in high tear levels of matrix metalloproteinases, the enzymes responsible for collagenolysis and corneal melt. Crosslinked corneal tissue has been shown to have stiffer biomechanical properties and to be more resistant to degradation by collagenolytic enzymes. We have previously optimized the technique for ex vivo corneal CXL and are currently studying its impact on the prevention of corneal melting after B-KPro surgery in high-risk eyes. Crosslinked carrier tissue was used in a 52-year-old man with familial aniridia
and severe post-KPro corneal melt. The patient maintained his visual acuity and showed no evidence of corneal thinning or melt in the first postoperative year.
Collagen crosslinking was previously shown to halt the enzymatic degradation of corneal buttons ex vivo. This study demonstrates the safety and potential benefit of using crosslinked corneal grafts as carriers for the B-KPro, especially in eyes at higher risk of postoperative melt.