Automating tissue preparation for donor corneas

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Mr Maninder Bhogal
  • Institute: Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Region: London
  • Start date: June 2013
  • End Date: November 2013
  • Priority:
  • Eye Category:


Most corneal transplant operations in the UK are due to problems with the cornea’s inner layer (the corneal endothelium). The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye.

About 1000 transplants are done each year. This used to mean that the whole cornea was removed from the patient and replaced with one from a donor. But more recently it has only involved removing some of the inner part as this is easier, safer and more reliable.

In this project the research team is trying to improve the surgery even more. There is a trade-off between two versions of the partial transplant. It’s easier to prepare the donor tissue and do the surgery using one method, but the results aren’t as good as they could be.

The second method leads to faster recovery times, clearer vision and fewer graft rejections. But the tissue has to be disected by hand, which is tricky, and the surgery itself is harder.

So Mr Bhogal and team are finding out whether tissue preparation can be automated using a laser. They’re also looking at ways to rate the quality of donor tissue and how the tissue is stored and inserted. The aim is to work out a useful automated technique that can be adopted by eye banks, so that well-prepared donor tissue is available to be sent to surgeons around the UK.