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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Study Finds Donor Corneas Can Be Safely Preserved for Longer Period

Results from a large, national clinical trial show that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days without negatively impacting the success of transplantation surgery to restore vision in people with diseases of the cornea. The cornea is the eye’s clear outer covering. Currently, donor corneas are generally not used for surgery in the United States if they have been preserved for longer than 7 days. 

Two reports from the Cornea Preservation Time Study, which was funded by the National Eye Institute, appeared online Nov. 10 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Expanding the window in which donor tissues can be considered suitable by even just a few days should help safeguard quality donor tissue and access to vision-saving transplantation procedures. 

The study’s lead investigator was Dr. Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Eye Institute, Cleveland. 

Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatment groups. The first received corneas preserved up to 7 days and the second received corneas preserved for 8 to 14 days.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of solutions to preserve donated corneas for 14 days. “The current practice of surgeons to use corneas preserved for no longer than 7 days is not evidence-based,” said Lass, “but rather a practice based on opinion, which hopefully will change with this new evidence.”

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