Also known as keratoplasty. If the cornea (see EYE) becomes damaged or diseased and vision is impaired, it can be removed and replaced by a corneal graft. The graft is taken from the cornea of a human donor. Some of the indications for corneal grafting include keratoconus (conicalshaped cornea), corneal dystrophies, severe corneal scarring following HERPES SIMPLEX, and alkali burns or other injury. Because the graft is a foreign protein, there is a danger that the recipient’s immune system may set up a reaction causing rejection of the graft. Rejection results in OEDEMA of the graft with subsequent poor vision. Once a corneal graft has been taken from a donor, it should be used as quickly as possible. Corneas can be stored for days in tissue-culture medium at low temperature. A small number of grafts are autografts in which a patient’s cornea is repositioned.
The Department of Health has drawn up a list of suitable eye-banks to which people can apply to bequeath their eyes, and an oﬃcial form is now available for the bequest of eyes. (See also DONORS; TRANSPLANTATION.)