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Indications, Visual Outcome, and Ectasia in Clear Corneal Transplants 20 Years Old or More

Felipe, Anthony F. MD; Hammersmith, Kristin M. MD; Nottage, Jennifer M. MD; Rapuano, Christopher J. MD; Nagra, Parveen K. MD; Cohen, Elisabeth J. MD; Laibson, Peter R. MD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31825ec42f
Clinical Science

Purpose: To report the indications, visual outcome, and development of ectasia in clear corneal transplants at least 20 years or more after penetrating keratoplasty (PK).

Methods: A computer search of all post-PK patients in the electronic medical records of the Cornea Service was done. Only patients with clear primary grafts aged 20 years or more were included. Main outcome measures noted were indications for surgery, final visual outcome, and postoperative complications. A subset of patients who developed ectasia clinically was also analyzed.

Results: One hundred forty-nine eyes of 109 patients were identified. The most common indication was keratoconus (76.5%). After average follow-up of 27 years, the mean postoperative best-corrected visual acuity was 0.29 ± 0.38 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (Snellen equivalent 20/39). Postoperative complications included rejection (29.5%), cataract formation (26.2%), and steroid-induced elevated intraocular pressure (15.4%). Peripheral thinning and ectasia diagnosed by slit lamp were noted in 59 eyes (39.6%), most of which were mild (54.2%), inferiorly located (66.1%), and involved the graft–host junction (81.4%). Most of the grafts that developed ectasia had a preoperative diagnosis of keratoconus (91.5%). Mean postoperative visual acuity of ectatic grafts with rigid gas permeable contact lens and/or glasses was 0.24 ± 0.25 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (Snellen equivalent 20/34).

Conclusion: PK grafts can remain clear for 20 years or more and have excellent visual outcome. Most of the 20-year-old grafts in our study were in patients with keratoconus. Rejection and graft–host ectasia are problems to be encountered in long-surviving grafts. Ectatic grafts can still attain good vision with properly fitted contact lenses and glasses.

Cornea Service, Wills Eye Institute, Philadelphia, PA.

Correspondence: Kristin M. Hammersmith, Cornea Service, Wills Eye Institute, 840 Walnut St, Suite 920, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (e-mail:

Financial disclosures/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Received January 4, 2012

Accepted May 9, 2012

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.