A new cornea transplant technique called DMEK provides significantly improved vision and faster recovery from surgery than standard cornea transplants.
The cornea is the clear outer lens on the front of the eye. In a cornea transplant, also called a keratoplasty, part of the defective cornea is replaced with corneal tissue from a deceased donor.
DMEK stands for Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty. In a DMEK, only the ultra-thin, innermost corneal layer (the Descemet membrane) is replaced, rather than the entire thickness of the cornea. This reduces the chance of a patient rejecting the donor cornea tissue because there is much less foreign donor material implanted into the patient. The procedure is indicated for patients who have problems only with the back layer of the cornea.
With the current standard of care for replacing the back layer of the cornea, patients are typically restored to a best-corrected vision of 20/30 or 20/40. With DMEK, patients can typically obtain a vision of 20/20 or 20/25. They also recover from surgery more quickly, said Amy Lin, MD, a Loyola University Medical Center ophthalmologist and cornea transplant specialist.
Chicago-area ophthalmologists recently learned about the technique in a hands-on demonstration at Loyola. They practiced the technique on cadaver eyes donated by the Illinois Eye Bank. It was the first Chicago-area DMEK demonstration of its kind.
The DMEK instruction course is an example of how ophthalmologists from Loyola and other Chicago-area centers frequently collaborate on educational, research and other projects that will improve patient care, said Charles Bouchard, MD, chair of Loyola's Department of Ophthalmology.
The demonstration was conducted in Loyola's Advanced Procedure Education Center (APEC), a state-of-the art facility that serves the surgical-skills training needs of students, residents, fellows and practicing physicians. APEC is part of the Center for Simulation Education at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The DMEK instructional course at Loyola was taught by DMEK experts Kenneth M. Goins, MD, of the University of Iowa; Mark Terry, MD of the Devers Eye Institute in Portland, Ore., and Gregory Schmidt, a University of Iowa eye bank technician.
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