Five Cases of Corneal Graft Rejection After Recent COVID-19 Vaccinations and a Review of the Literature

Cornea. 2022 May 1;41(5):669-672. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000002980.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to report 5 cases of acute corneal graft rejection after COVID-19 vaccination and perform a review of the literature.

Methods: This was a case series and review of literature dated on the October 10, 2021.

Results: We describe 5 cases-2 patients with Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (for Fuchs endothelial dystrophy) who presented with acute corneal graft rejection after their first dose of mRNA (BNT162) vaccine. The other 3 patients who had penetrating keratoplasty performed more than 10 years ago for keratoconus presented with acute graft rejection-2 patients after their second dose of adenovirus vector (AZD1222) vaccine and 1 patient after first dose of mRNA (BNT162) vaccine. Three patients were not using any topical steroid treatment at the time of diagnosis of graft rejection. The mean duration between vaccination and onset of symptoms was 16.86 ± 6.96 days for the mRNA vaccine and 17 ± 11.89 days for the adenovirus vector vaccine.

Conclusions: Corneal graft rejection has recently been reported after COVID-19 vaccination. Patients with keratoplasty need to be advised regarding the risk of corneal graft rejection and warning symptoms of rejection after COVID-19 vaccination. Seeking early referral to the emergency department and increasing topical steroids pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 vaccination may reduce the risk of rejection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines / adverse effects
  • COVID-19*
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • Corneal Diseases* / surgery
  • Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty*
  • Graft Rejection / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus* / surgery
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vaccination / adverse effects
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • mRNA Vaccines


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • mRNA Vaccines
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19