Study shows “most corneal transplants have remarkable longevity regardless of donor age.”
Ten years after a transplant, a cornea from a 71-year-old donor is likely to remain as healthy as a cornea from a donor half that age, and corneas from donors over 71 perform slightly less well but still remain healthy for most transplant recipients, according to a study funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and led by the UC Davis Health System Eye Center and the University of Cincinnati Eye Institute.
The Cornea Donor Study found that 10-year success rates remained steady at 75 percent for corneal transplants from donors 34 to 71 years old. It also found slightly higher success rates for donors under 34, and somewhat lower rates for donors over 71.
In the U.S., three-fourths of cornea donors are within the 34 to 71 age range, with one-third of donors at the upper end of the range, from 61 to 70 years old. When the study began in 2000, many surgeons would not accept corneas from donors over 65.
“The findings clearly demonstrate that most corneal transplants have remarkable longevity regardless of donor age,” said Mark Mannis, chair of ophthalmology and vision sciences, director of UC Davis Health System’s Eye Center and co-chair of the study. “The majority of patients continued to do well after 10 years, even those who received corneas from the oldest donors.”
The Corneal Donor Study “supports continued expansion of the corneal donor pool beyond age 65,” said study co-chair Edward J. Holland, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati and director of the Cornea Service at the Cincinnati Eye Institute.