-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- If you need a corneal
transplant to improve your vision, don't worry too much about the
donor's age, a new study says.
According to new research, corneas from 71-year-old donors are
as likely to be as healthy as those from donors half that age a
decade after their transplant.
The cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, is the clear window
that allows light into the eye and helps focus it. Damage to the
cornea caused by injuries or infections, inherited conditions, or
complications of cataract surgery can lead to blurred vision. A
corneal transplant is performed when vision problems or discomfort
from corneal damage cannot be corrected with lenses or
The new study included 663 people who received corneal
transplants. After 10 years, the overall transplant success rate
held at 75 percent for corneas from donors aged 34 to 71. But
differences were noted when the researchers looked at smaller age
groups. Success rates for corneas from the youngest pool -- donors
age 12 to 33 -- were 96 percent, but only 62 percent for donors
aged 72 to 75.
The study began in 2000, and at that time, many surgeons would
not accept corneas from donors over 65 years of age, the
researchers noted in a news release from the U.S. National Eye
The findings from the U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded
study were published online Nov. 15 in the journal
Ophthalmology. The study was presented the same day at a
meeting of the Eye Bank Association of America and the Cornea
Society in New Orleans.
"Our study supports continued expansion of the corneal donor pool beyond age 65," study co-chair Dr. Edward Holland, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati, said in a NEI news release.
"We found that transplant success rates were similar across a broad range of donor ages," added Holland, who is also director of the Cornea Service at the Cincinnati Eye Institute.
Maryann Redford, a clinical research program director at NEI,
pointed out that the supply of corneas does not meet the demand
internationally. The need for corneal transplants is expected to
grow along with the aging population, she said in the news release.
The study "was designed to address whether making use of donor
corneas across the full range of ages available might help solve
this problem," Redford added.
The Eye Bank Association of America has more about
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