Objective: To examine whether amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT), in preparing the perilimbal stroma, enhances the success of allograft limbal transplantation (ALT).
Methods: Thirty-one eyes of 26 consecutive patients had cytologically proven limbal deficiency resulting from chemical burns (14 eyes); Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, or pseudopemphigoid (5 eyes); contact lens-induced keratopathy (3 eyes); aniridia (3 eyes); multiple surgical procedures (2 eyes); atopy (2 eyes); or an unknown cause (2 eyes). Based on the severity of limbal deficiency, group A (mild), comprising 10 eyes, received AMT alone; group B (moderate), comprising 7 eyes, received AMT and ALT; and group C (severe), comprising 14 eyes, received AMT, ALT, and penetrating keratoplasty. All patients except those in group A received continuous oral cyclosporine.
Results: Except for the 2 eyes with atopy, all amniotic membrane-covered surfaces showed rapid epithelialization (in 2 to 4 weeks) and reduced inflammation, vascularization, and scarring, and the surfaces became smooth and wettable. For the mean follow-up period of 15.4 months, 25 (83%) of 30 eyes showed visual improvement, consisting of 6 or more lines (13 eyes), 4 to 5 lines (6 eyes), or 1 to 3 lines (6 eyes). Visual improvement decreased with the severity of limbal deficiency from 8 (100%) of 8 eyes in group A to 5 (71%) of 7 eyes in group B and 11 (79%) of 14 eyes in group C. In group C, corneal graft rejection occurred in 9 (64%) of 14 eyes, and reversible early limbal allograft rejection was noted in 3 (14%) of 21 eyes of groups B and C.
Conclusions: For partial limbal deficiency with superficial involvement, AMT alone is sufficient and hence superior to ALT because there is no need to administer cyclosporine. For total limbal deficiency, additional ALT is needed, and AMT helps reconstruct the perilimbal stroma, with reduced inflammation and vascularization, which collectively may enhance the success of ALT.