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JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017 Dec 1;135(12):1394-1400. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4970.

Corneal Endothelial Cell Loss 3 Years After Successful Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty in the Cornea Preservation Time Study: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Author information

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Verdier Eye Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Jaeb Center for Health Research, Tampa, Florida
Stein Eye Institute, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles)
Michigan Cornea Consultants, PC, Southfield
Cornea Associates of Texas, Dallas
Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Focal Point Vision, San Antonio, Texas
Department of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Mid Atlantic Cornea Consultants, Baltimore, Maryland
Central Pennsylvania Eye Center, Hershey
Eversight, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Devers Eye Institute, Portland, Oregon



Demonstrating that endothelial cell loss following Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) is independent of donor cornea preservation time (PT) could increase the pool of corneal tissue available for keratoplasty.


To determine whether endothelial cell loss 3 years after successful DSAEK is related to PT.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

A multicenter, double-masked, randomized clinical trial included 40 clinical sites (70 surgeons) in the United States, with donor corneas provided by 23 US eye banks. A total of 945 eyes of 769 participants were included in the Cornea Preservation Time Study that had not experienced graft failure 3 years after DSAEK, performed primarily for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (96% of the cohort). The study was conducted from April 16, 2012, to June 5, 2017.


DSAEK with random assignment of a donor cornea with PT of 0 to 7 days (0-7d PT) or 8 to 14 days (8-14d PT).

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Endothelial cell density (ECD) at 3 years determined by a central image analysis reading center from clinical specular or confocal central endothelial images.


Nine hundred forty-five eyes of 769 participants (median age, 70 years [range, 42-90 years], 60.8% women, 93.0% white) in the Cornea Preservation Time Study that had not experienced graft failure 3 years after DSAEK were included. At the initial eye bank tissue screening, mean (SD) central ECD was 2746 (297) cells/mm2 in the 0-7d PT group (n = 485) and 2723 (284) cells/mm2 in the 8-14d PT group (n = 460). At 3 years, the mean (SD) ECD decreased from baseline by 37% (21%) in the 0-7d PT group and 40% (22%) in the 8-14d PT group to 1722 (626) cells/mm2 and 1642 (631) cells/mm2, respectively (mean difference, 73 cells/mm2; 95% CI, 8-138 cells/mm2; P = .03). When analyzed as a continuous variable (days), longer PT was associated with lower ECD (mean difference by days, 15 cells/mm2; 95% CI, 4-26 cells/mm2; P = .006). Endothelial cell loss (ECL) was comparable from 4 to 13 days’ PT (n = 878; 36%-43% when tabulated by day). Available extension study ECD results at 4 years mirrored those at 3 years in the 203 eyes in the 0-7d PT group (mean [SD] ECD, 1620 [673] cells/mm2 and mean [SD] ECL, 41% [23%]) and 209 eyes in the 8-14d PT group (mean [SD] ECD, 1537 [683] cells/mm2 and mean [SD] ECL, 44% [23%]) (mean difference, 112 cells/mm2; 95% CI, 5-219 cells/mm2; P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance:

Although ECL 3 years after Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty is greater with longer PT, the effect of PT on ECL is comparable from 4 to 13 days’ PT.


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