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The influence of Australian eye banking practices on corneal graft survival

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Corneal transplantation enables the restoration of sight to people with corneas damaged by disease or trauma. In Australia, as in many countries, donor corneas are preserved between retrieval and transplantation in several ways and for variable periods in licensed eye banks.

It has been recommended that corneas be retrieved within 12 hours of donor death,1 but there is no consensus on the acceptable maximum interval, and this time limit is sometimes stretched.2 In Australia, after retrieval and processing within a 24-hour period, corneas are currently preserved in an eye bank in one of three ways: in tissue-culture medium at 4ºC, in organ culture at 30–37ºC, or occasionally as a whole enucleated globe in a moist pot at 4ºC. Storage time depends on the preservation method but corneas will generally be transplanted as soon as practicable, to limit the inevitable deterioration that occurs after death and during storage.3

Although Australia’s five eye banks are able to collect sufficient donor tissue to meet the nation’s needs, they are not located close to all transplant centres. Tasmania sources virtually…