Corneal Physician Bulletin: COVID-19 Vaccination May be Linked with Acute Corneal Graft Rejection

Corneal Edema. Photo courtesy of WillsEye Hospital

Patients who undergo a COVID-19 vaccination near the time of their corneal transplant may be at an increased risk for graft rejection, according to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.1
            Specifically, the study showed the time between vaccination and graft rejection ranged from 1 day to 6 weeks, with corneal edema the number one sign, followed by keratic precipitates, and conjunctival or ciliary injection. Additionally, the median (interquartile range) age at graft rejection onset was 68, and the types of corneal transplants were Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty, Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty, and living-related conjunctival-limbal allograft. 
            The study’s researchers arrived at these findings by performing an online search of both the PubMed and EMBASE databases to acquire information on corneal graft recipients’ characteristics, type of corneal transplant, the amount of time between COVID-19 vaccination and allograft rejection, the clinical manifestations of the rejection and the type of graft rejection medication used. Their source material: A total of 13 articles, published between April 2021 and December 2021, on 21 patients (23 eyes) who had acute corneal graft rejection after COVID-19 vaccination, 

1. Fujio K, Sung J, Nakatani S, et al. Characteristics and Clinical Ocular Manifestations in Patients with Acute Corneal Graft Rejection after Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine: A Systematic Review. J Clin Med. 2022 Aug 2;11(15):4500. doi: 10.3390/jcm11154500.