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Study Finds Older Corneas Suitable for Transplantation
Date:4/1/2008

Tissue from people up to 75 had similar survival rates to that from younger donors

TUESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- People up to the age of 75 should be allowed to donate corneas for transplant, says a U.S. National Eye Institute-funded study.

The researchers found that tissue from donors aged 66 to 75 had the same five-year success rate (86 percent) as corneas from donors aged 12 to 65.

The research, coordinated by the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Fla., included 1,101 patients, aged 40 to 80, enrolled by 105 surgeons at 80 sites. The patients were followed for five years after corneal transplant. A transplant was considered a failure if a repeat corneal transplant was needed or if the transplanted cornea was cloudy for at least three months.

The findings were published in the April issue of Ophthalmology.

This is "the largest study of its type on corneal transplantation ever done. Its size and five-year patient follow-up, along with a simple trial design, have provided us with clear and important insights into contemporary transplantation," study co-chairman Dr. Mark J. Mannis, professor and chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis, said in a prepared statement.

In the United States, more than 33,000 corneal transplants are done each year. For the past 10 years, there's been an adequate supply of donor corneas, the study authors noted. However, supply could become a problem due to new U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations that require additional screening and testing of potential donors for contagious diseases, registration of eye banks, more detailed records and labels, and stricter quarantine procedures.

In addition, some surgeons are reluctant to use corneas from older people, so many eye banks only accept corneas from donors aged 65 or younger.

The study authors said the use of corneas from older
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