Endothelial keratoplasty: DSEK/DSAEK or DMEK--the thinner the better?

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2009 Jul;20(4):299-307. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0b013e32832b8d18.


Purpose of review: Endothelial keratoplasty has been adopted worldwide as an alternative to penetrating keratoplasty in the treatment of corneal endothelial disorders. Descemet stripping (automated) endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK/DSAEK) may be the current standard, whereas Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), that is, isolated transplantation of Descemet membrane, may allow further improvement of clinical outcome.

Recent findings: DSEK/DSAEK may still have three major challenges: suboptimal visual acuity and relatively slow visual rehabilitation, limited accessibility due to required investments in equipment or the purchase of predissected tissue, and a drop in donor endothelial cell density in the early postoperative phase. Although DMEK may allow much quicker and (near) complete visual rehabilitation as well as easier logistics in donor preparation, the surgical technique may initially require more training to obtain consistent outcomes.

Summary: Compared with DSEK/DSAEK, DMEK may have higher clinical potential with 75% of cases reaching 20/25 or better (> or =0.8) within 1-3 months. Furthermore, preparation of isolated Descemet grafts does not require large investments and may increase overall donor tissue availability. Hence, corneal surgeons may consider 'to make the switch' from DSEK/DSAEK to DMEK.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Corneal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Corneal Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Corneal Diseases / surgery*
  • Corneal Transplantation / instrumentation
  • Corneal Transplantation / methods*
  • Descemet Membrane / physiopathology
  • Descemet Membrane / surgery
  • Endothelium, Corneal / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Corneal / transplantation
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity