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, 8 (6), 441-447

The Rapid Transformation of Transplantation for Corneal Endothelial Diseases: An Evolution From Penetrating to Lamellar to Cellular Transplants


The Rapid Transformation of Transplantation for Corneal Endothelial Diseases: An Evolution From Penetrating to Lamellar to Cellular Transplants

Jie Zhang et al. Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila).


The cornea is the major focusing structure of the human eye and the corneal endothelium maintains the relatively dehydrated state of the cornea required for clarity. The endothelial cells respond to disease or injury by migration and cellular enlargement. Our current understanding is that there is a very limited degree of proliferative or regenerative capacity in the human corneal endothelium. Thus, corneal endothelial diseases may result in corneal edema, significantly impact vision and quality of life. Contemporary surgical transplantation options for treating moderate to advanced endothelial dysfunction include penetrating keratoplasty (PK), Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK), and Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty. Advances in surgical techniques aim to bring faster visual recovery and improve visual outcomes; however, there is still a significant donor cornea shortage worldwide and alternative methods for treatment for corneal endothelial disease are rapidly evolving. Indeed, we are at a pivotal point in corneal transplantation for endothelial disease and novel surgical strategies include using 1 donor for multiple recipients, a minimally attached endothelial graft, and Descemet membrane stripping only. Crucially, forthcoming approaches include the use of Rho-Kinase (ROCK) inhibitors, endothelial cell therapy, tissue engineered grafts, and consideration of stem cell techniques. Ultimately, the choice of technique will be dependent on recipient factors such as age, type of endothelial disease, extent of the disease, and associated ocular disorders. The safety and efficacy of these rapidly developing treatments warrant further investigations. In time, some or all of these alternatives for corneal transplantation will alleviate the reliance on limited corneal donor tissue.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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