Research published in JAMA Ophthalmology has found that donor corneal tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before surgery.
The study involved examining the results of Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty operations on 1090 patients.
Researchers found that there was no statistically significant difference in the three-year corneal graft success rates of patients who received corneal tissue preserved for up to seven days, when compared to those with tissue stored for eight to 14 days before transplant.
Both groups had graft success rates of more than 90%.
Study author, Dr Jonathan Lass, highlighted that in the US currently corneal transplant specialists only use donor tissues stored for a week before transplant.
“Our findings show they can safely use them for up to 11 days after first being stored,” Dr Lass emphasised.
“This will help to meet the expected future demand for corneas in this country as well as in patients overseas,” he added.
Up to 30% of corneas donated by US citizens are received by patients living in other countries.
A spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant said corneas donated to the service’s eye banks are stored for up to 28 days.
However, the spokesperson highlighted that in the UK corneas are stored at a different temperature to donor tissue in the US so the expiry time was not comparable.