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Evolution of Endothelial Keratoplasty

Price, Francis W. Jr MD; Price, Marianne O. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3182a0a307

Abstract: Endothelial keratoplasty has evolved into a popular alternative to penetrating keratoplasty (PK) for the treatment of endothelial dysfunction. Although the earliest iterations were challenging and were not widely adopted, the iteration known as Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) has gained widespread acceptance. DSEK combines a simplified technique for stripping dysfunctional endothelium from the host cornea and microkeratome dissection of the donor tissue, a step now commonly completed in advance by eye bank technicians. Studies show that a newer endothelial keratoplasty iteration, known as Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), provides an even faster and better visual recovery than DSEK does. In addition, DMEK significantly reduces the risk of immunologic graft rejection episodes compared with that in DSEK or in PK. Although the DMEK donor tissue, consisting of the bare endothelium and Descemet membrane without any stroma, is more challenging to prepare and position in the recipient eye, recent improvements in instrumentation and surgical techniques are increasing the ease and the reliability of the procedure. DSEK successfully mitigates 2 of the main liabilities of PK: ocular surface complications and structural problems (including induced astigmatism and perpetually weak wounds), whereas DMEK further mitigates the 2 principal remaining liabilities of PK: immunologic graft reactions and secondary glaucoma from prolonged topical corticosteroid use.

*Price Vision Group, Indianapolis, IN; and

Cornea Research Foundation of America, Indianapolis, IN.

Reprints: Marianne O. Price, Cornea Research Foundation of America, 9002 N. Meridian St, Suite 212, Indianapolis, IN 46260 (e-mail:

The authors did not receive financial support for the preparation of this manuscript.

The Price Vision Group has received payment for consultancy (from Ophtec), grants (from Allergan), lectures (from Alcon, Oculus), and travel/accommodations/meetings expenses (from Santen, Moria, for F.W.P.). The Cornea Research Foundation of America received payment for grants (from Allergan, Alcon, Bausch & Lomb). The authors also own stock in Calhoun, TearLab, and RevitalVision.

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