Acute corneal edema decades after penetrating keratoplasty for keratoconus in eyes wearing scleral contact lenses

Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2021 Feb;44(1):108-114. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2020.10.008. Epub 2020 Nov 5.


Purpose: To report three cases of acute corneal edema occurring decades after penetrating keratoplasty (PK) for keratoconus in eyes wearing scleral contact lenses (ScCLs) with previously clear corneal grafts.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of three ScCL wearers presenting for sudden onset pain and blurred vision. Data extracted included clinical presentation, year and reason for PK, ocular medications and comorbidities, contact lens wearing history, results of any ancillary testing available including corneal topography, anterior segment optical coherence tomography (OCT), and specular microscopy surrounding the event, treatment and outcomes of intervention. The number of PK eyes fit with ScCLs in the author's practice was determined to estimate the prevalence of this event.

Results: The three patients each had a longstanding PK for keratoconus performed between 33-35 years prior to presentation and recurrent ectasia. Each patient presented with an acute, painful eye and reduced vision either 3 days, 4 months or 9 years after refitting into ScCLs. Each eye had well demarcated focal microcystic epithelial and stromal edema within the graft and crossing the wound margin onto the host cornea. Although a definitive break or detachment of Descemet's membrane was not visualized, the presentations suggest these were episodes of acute hydrops.

Conclusions: Longstanding PKs with recurrent ectasia and acute focal edema suggestive of corneal hydrops is demonstrated in this case series of ScCL wearers. Although similar events have occurred as part of the natural history of post-PK corneas for keratoconus, the proximity of ScCL refitting to two of the events suggests some association.

Keywords: Contact; Hydrops; Keratoconus; Lens; Penetrating keratoplasty; Scleral.

MeSH terms

  • Contact Lenses* / adverse effects
  • Cornea
  • Corneal Edema* / diagnosis
  • Corneal Edema* / etiology
  • Edema
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus* / diagnosis
  • Keratoconus* / surgery
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies