'Misconceptions' among surgeons causing sight loss

Expert issues sight loss warning

Southampton General Hospital

Patients may be losing their sight unnecessarily due to a "poor understanding" about the effectiveness of corneal transplants, a leading expert has claimed.

Consultant ophthalmologist at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, Parwez Hossain (pictured), explained that there is a common misconception among surgeons that the procedure has unacceptable risks of rejection and failure.

He says that due to this many patients with severe infection or perforation of the cornea often have the eye removed, despite a transplant having a 40% success rate in high-risk cases.

Mr Hossain spoke out as a study by his team was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

The study reviewed 1330 emergency corneal graft procedures over six years and found that they had a 78% success rate at one year after surgery, 66% after two and 47% at three. Furthermore, for elective surgery of this type, they found success rate to be 90% after a year.

"There is a common misconception among eye surgeons that grafting for severe corneal disease associated with infection and perforation carries unacceptable risks of rejection and failure, and therefore, tend to offer complete removal," he told OT.

"Our study, which is the largest to investigate outcomes of emergency corneal grafts, should raise awareness that emergency corneal grafting is worthwhile and should be considered at every opportunity to avoid certain sight loss through removal," he added.

Mr Hossain is based at Southampton General Hospital, one of 12 national eye retrieval centres, which enables the team to store donated eye tissue from patients on the organ donor register for corneal transplant and some glaucoma surgeries.

The consultant highlighted that the "favourable outcomes" that have been seen at Southampton General Hospital demonstrate the importance of having eye retrieval and banking facilities so tissue is available for regency grafting.

"This is significant considering that, in many parts of the world, eye banking facilities are rudimentary or non-existent for allowing corneal transplant material to be available in a few hours," he added.