To report the 5-year graft survival and clinical outcomes after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK).
A retrospective, interventional case series was performed at a tertiary referral center. Five hundred eyes of 393 patients that underwent DMEK for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, bullous keratopathy, failed previous corneal transplants other than DMEK, or other indications were evaluated for graft survival, best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), endothelial cell density, postoperative complications, and retransplantation rate.
Kaplan–Meier analysis demonstrated an estimated survival probability of 0.90 [95% confidence interval, 0.87–0.94] for the entire cohort at 5 years after DMEK. At this time point, 82% of the eyes achieved a BCVA of ≥20/25 (0.8), 54% achieved ≥20/20 (1.0), and 16% achieved ≥20/17 (1.2). BCVA continued to improve from 6 to 36 months after DMEK surgery (P ≤ 0.005) and then remained stable up to 60 months postoperatively (P > 0.08). Preoperative donor endothelial cell density averaged 2530 (±210) cells/mm2 and decreased by 37% at 6 months, 40% at 1 year, and 55% at 5 years after DMEK surgery (P < 0.001 between all follow-up time points). During the study period, allograft rejection episodes developed in 2.8% of the eyes, primary graft failure occurred in 0.2%, and secondary graft failure in 2.8% of the eyes. Re-keratoplasty was required in 8.8% of the eyes.
Five-year graft survival after DMEK is high, and visual acuity outcomes remain excellent and are accompanied by a low longer-term complication rate.