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Center For Sight Selected to Participate in Corneal Transplant Study
Date:3/9/2013

doubling the window for corneal transplants will increase the pool of donated corneas; an important public health concern,” Dr. Lahners said.

Patients who need corneal transplants are typically 50 and older. According to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, that population will grow from about 99 million in 2011 to about 133 million by 2030 in this country. While the number of patients will grow the number of potential donors is waning.

“All of these issues disqualify potential donors: food contamination, such as madcow disease and the recent listeria outbreak in cantaloupe; the growing number and spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and West Nile virus, which have no cure; high-risk behaviors such as methamphetamine use – which is at epidemic levels in some parts of the country – IV drug use and imprisonment; the growing number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other neurologic diseases of unknown origin; and the aging population itself, which is less suited to donate because corneas age and deteriorate;” explained Dr. Marian Macsai, Chief of the Division of Ophthalmology at NorthShore University Health System and current chair of the Eye Bank Association of America. “Add them up and you’ve got a shrinking donor pool.”

“In addition to fewer donors to rely on, the growing list of disqualifiers requires greater scrutiny of the sources,” Dr. Lahners said. “We need more time to analyze the donor and test blood to ensure the safety of the recipient and quality of the cornea received.”

The five-year study is being conducted in Sarasota as well as at university-based and private clinics across the United States. Researchers will compare the outcomes of 1,330 corneal transplants. Half the patients will receive transplants within seven days of donor death, half within eight to 14 days.

People suffering from diseases affecting the corneal endothelium, the critical back cell layer of the cornea that keeps the cornea from sw
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