To evaluate the outcomes of Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) in aphakic and aniridic eyes.
A retrospective chart review of either aphakic or aniridic patients who underwent DMEK at Toronto Western Hospital, Canada, between 2015 and 2019 was performed. Demographic characteristics, intraoperative and postoperative complications, and best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) were analyzed.
Nine eyes of 9 patients, aged 51.0 ± 8.6 years, were included (3 aniridic, 5 aphakic, and 1 combined). The average follow-up was 15.7 ± 12.7 months. The best corrected visual acuities before surgery and 3 and 6 months after surgery were 1.28 ± 0.47, 1.33 ± 0.98, and 1.03 ± 0.56 LogMAR, respectively. Six eyes (67%) had graft detachment, with 3 of them larger than 30% of the graft area. One eye (11%) developed hyphema. The overall failure rate was 88% (8 of 9 eyes), meaning only one was viable at the last follow-up. Primary graft failure was seen in 4 eyes (44%) after detachment (n = 3) and intraoperative hyphema (n = 1). Secondary failure occurred in 4 eyes (44%) at 7, 12, 15, and 36 months. The secondary failure at 36 months was after rejection. Failures were managed with penetrating keratoplasty (n = 2), repeat DMEK (n = 3), Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (n = 1), and observation because of poor vision potential (n = 2). Cumulative graft survival probabilities at 12 and 24 months were 44% and 17%, respectively.
Aniridic and aphakic patients experienced unacceptably high detachment and failure rates after DMEK. Before performing DMEK, the risks and benefits should be carefully weighed and perhaps other keratoplasty techniques should be used.