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Corneal Physician Bulletin: Study Seeks to Determine Which Diabetic Patients Can Donate Corneas


            Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals and the Jaeb Center for Health researchers will perform a study to determine the diabetic individuals who can donate their corneas for successful keratoplasty. The study comes on the heels of mounting research that shows not all corneal tissue from diabetic individuals may be acceptable for keratoplasty, even though roughly a third of corneal transplants involve donated corneas from diabetic individuals, according to a Case Western Reserve University press release.
            “…This study could… help identify some of the reasons why 2% to 3% of donated corneas fail for no apparent reason, which is a reason for frustration among patients and surgeons,” said Ahmed Omar, an assistant professor at the CWRU School of Medicine and director of the Cornea Service at University Hospitals Eye Institute, in the press release.
            Specifically, the Diabetes Endothelial Keratoplasty Study seeks to: 
            • Compare the one-year keratoplasty-success rate post-Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) with corneas from donors with and without diabetes. (DMEK is being employed, as it’s the most common procedure, which should help with patient recruitment efforts, and due to prior research, which reveals eye-bank technicians have had more issues preparing donors who have diabetes for the DMEK surgery, according to the press release.)
            • Compare the one-year loss of endothelial cells in the central cornea post DMEK in corneas from donors with and without diabetes. 
            • Explore how diabetes severity of a donor affects outcomes one year post DMEK. 
            The study will be comprised of 1,420 donors and over 1,000 patients, with two-thirds of donors non-diabetic and one-third diabetic. Additionally, diabetes in the transplant recipient will be watched to understand how that may influence procedure success. Further, 16 eye banks and 30 U.S. clinical sites will be involved.
             The study’s researchers received a 5-year, $6.4 million grant from the NEI for the study, along with support from the Eye Bank Association of America, the Cornea Society, the Cleveland Eye Bank Foundation and many national eye banks, according to the press release. CP