Corneal grafts obtained from donors dying in the hospital or with cancer may increase the risk of infection in the recipient. A report in the February issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, says that this infection called endophthalmitis, most commonly comes from donors who die in a hospital or had cancer.
According to the research team, "Infection is an uncommon but serious complication of corneal transplant. Most infected eyes lose vision or become blind."
"Together with donor screening and processing, improvements in microbiologic control may reduce infection associated with corneal transplant," says Dr Sohela S. Hassan, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
The findings also indicate that delaying the transplantation for longer than 5 days after the corneal tissue is harvested also increased the risk of eye infection.
"Most importantly, this study demonstrates the importance of having a national reporting system with an overview of adverse reactions related to donor tissue. Strict compliance with reporting will allow risk information to be acquired and will hopefully lead to even greater improvements in tissue safety for the future," said Dr. Joel Sugar, a professor of ophthalmology and visual science at the University of Illinois at Chicago Eye Center and author of an accompanying editorial in the journal.
"The number of infections is very small," said Dr. Joel Sugar. "The Eye Bank Association of America has a very stringent and effective system for reporting such cases," he added.
Corneal transplant surgery still remains a safe and effective procedure. Experts say that the new information should not deter people from having corneal transplant surgery.