Preparing a donor cornea for transplant: by machine or by hand?

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Madhavan Rajan
  • Institute: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Region: East of England
  • Start date: June 2016
  • End Date: June 2019
  • Priority: Treatment
  • Eye Category: Corneal & external


Disorders in which the usually clear front window of the eye (the cornea) become cloudy is a significant cause of sight loss in the UK. It’s also the second most common cause of blindness in the developing world.

Recent advances in transplant surgery to replace the inner layer of the cornea (endothelial keratoplasty) have meant a great benefit to patients: better sight, shorter recovery time, minimal hospital stay and fewer complications. The tissue grafts are prepared from human donors either by machine or by hand. But there hasn’t been any research yet to compare these two ways of doing it.

In this project the team is doing a randomized controlled clinical trial to compare graft preparation, visual recovery, complications and transplant rejection between machine-cutting and hand dissection. The follow-up is for 12 months and the team is also looking at what affects safety and regaining vision. It’s important to find out so that the people having surgery, eye banks and surgical teams can make informed choices and plan for the future.