Purpose: To evaluate early visual and refractive outcomes following treatment of corneal endothelial dysfunction with a corneal transplantation technique, Descemet's stripping with endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK).
Methods: Visual and refractive outcomes of the first 50 consecutive cases of DSEK performed by a single surgeon between December 2003 and July 2004 were analyzed retrospectively. The DSEK technique consisted of stripping Descemet's membrane and endothelium from a recipient cornea and transplanting the posterior stroma and endothelium of a donor cornea through a 5-mm incision.
Results: Results are reported for 50 eyes in 47 patients (30 women and 17 men). Mean patient age at surgery was 70 +/- 12 years (range: 34 to 89 years). Five eyes were treated for corneal edema or bullous keratopathy and 45 for Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy. Seven eyes were phakic and 43 were pseudophakic. Six months after surgery, mean manifest cylinder was 1.5 +/- 0.94 diopters (D), unchanged from preoperative cylinder of 1.5 +/- 1.0 D. Mean manifest spherical equivalent refraction was 0.15 +/- 1.5 D at 6-month follow-up compared with -0.36 +/- 1.4 D preoperatively (P = .10) At 3- and 6-month follow-up, significant improvement was noted in mean best spectacle-corrected visual acuity compared with the preoperative mean of 20/100 (P = .007). At 6-month follow-up, 31 (62%) eyes refracted to > or = 20/40 and 38 (76%) eyes saw > or = 20/50.
Conclusions: Compared to standard penetrating keratoplasty, DSEK causes minimal refractive change and provides rapid visual recovery for patients with endothelial dysfunction. This technique maintains the structural integrity of the cornea by preserving the recipient's epithelium, Bowman's layer, and entire stromal thickness.