Aim: To assess visual outcome and the incidence of complications at 2 years postoperatively in corneal grafts reported to the Swedish Corneal Transplant Register.
Methods: Preoperative and 2 year follow up data were submitted to the Swedish Corneal Transplant Register by surgeons in eight corneal transplant clinics in Sweden. Preoperative data on 1957 grafts and 520 grafts with 2 year follow up were included in the analysis. Data were analysed by multiple linear and logistic regression methods, as appropriate.
Results: The major diagnostic categories were keratoconus (29%), bullous keratopathy (21%), and “other diagnosis” (32%). Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy and stromal dystrophies accounted for 15% and 3% of grafts, respectively. At 2 years the overall incidence of complications, other than rejection and regrafting, was 26%, with an increasing frequency from keratoconus < Fuchs' dystrophy < bullous keratopathy < “other diagnosis.” Rejection was observed in 15% of grafts and was more likely in the bullous keratopathy (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 9.0, p=0.04) and “other diagnosis” (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 5.9, p=0.03) groups. Regrafting, which occurred in 10% of cases, was not influenced by diagnosis, but it was related to the incidence of rejection (OR 14.8, 95% CI 6.1 to 35.9, p<0.001) and other complications (OR 4.4, 95% CI 1.9 to 10.4, p=0.001), and to the presence of other sight threatening pathology in the eye (OR 3.6, 95% CI 1.3 to 9.9, p=0.01). Visual acuity was improved in a high proportion of the patients, especially those with keratoconus and Fuchs' dystrophy where, respectively, 86% and 54% of grafts achieved a visual acuity of ≥0.5 at 2 years, compared with only 31% with bullous keratopathy and 35% in the “other diagnosis” group. 60% of grafts for keratoconus and Fuchs' dystrophy achieved a visual acuity equal to or better than the other eye. Postoperative astigmatism was higher in the bullous keratopathy (p=0.01) group. Patients with high astigmatism benefited from refractive surgery, showing a reduction from 7.9 (95%CI 6.9, 8.7) to 3.2 (95% CI 2.6, 3.9) dioptres (p<0.001). A centre effect was evident in visual outcome.
Conclusion: The overall incidence of complications was related to diagnosis. Complications other than rejection and regrafting were most likely in the “other diagnosis” group, and further analysis of this group is therefore planned. The best improvement in visual acuity and the lowest astigmatism were achieved in the keratoconus and Fuchs' dystrophy groups; but the influence of diagnosis on astigmatism was small and, overall, the statistical model accounted for only 8% of the variability in astigmatism. Refractive surgery was, however, effective in reducing astigmatism. It is hoped that a better understanding of the factors that determine the visual outcome of grafts will emerge from future analyses of the Swedish Corneal Transplant Register, helping to refine the criteria for patient selection and to guide clinical practice.