Quality of vision and vision-related quality of life after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty: a randomized clinical trial

S.L. Dunker*, M.M. Dickman, R.P.L. Wisse, S. Nobacht, R.H.J. Wijdh, M.C. Bartels, N.E.M.L. Tang, F.J.H.M. van den Biggelaar, P.J. Kruit, B. Winkens, R.M.M.A. Nuijts

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: To compare quality of vision and vision-related quality of life (QOL) in patients undergoing Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) or ultrathin Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK).Methods: Fifty-four eyes of 54 patients with Fuchs' dystrophy from six corneal clinics in the Netherlands were randomized to DMEK or ultrathin DSAEK and examined preoperatively, and 3, 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Main outcome measures were corneal higher-order aberrations (HOAs), contrast sensitivity, straylight and vision-related QOL.Results: Posterior corneal HOAs decreased after DMEK and increased after ultrathin DSAEK (p <= 0.001) 3 months after surgery and correlated positively with best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (12 months: r = 0.29, p = 0.04). Anterior and total corneal HOAs did not differ significantly between both techniques at any time point. Contrast sensitivity was better (p = 0.01), and straylight was lower (p = 0.01) 3 months after DMEK compared with ultrathin DSAEK; 95% confidence interval [CI] of log(cs) 1.10-1.35 versus 95% CI: 0.84 to 1.12, and 95% CI: log(s) 1.18 to 1.43 versus 95% CI: 1.41 to 1.66, respectively. Both were comparable at later time points. Vision-related QOL (scale 0-100) did not differ significantly between both groups at any time point and improved significantly at 3 months (beta = 12 [95% CI: 7 to 16]; p < 0.001), and subsequently between 3 and 12 months (beta = 5 [95% CI: 0 to 9]; p = 0.06).Conclusions: Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) results in lower posterior corneal HOAs compared with ultrathin DSAEK. Contrast sensitivity and straylight recover faster after DMEK but reach similar levels with both techniques at 1 year. Vision-related QOL improved significantly after surgery, but did not differ between both techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1127-E1134
Number of pages8
JournalActa Ophthalmologica
Issue number7
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • aberrations
  • contrast
  • corneal transplantation
  • descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty
  • descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty
  • fuchs endothelial dystrophy
  • graft thickness
  • randomized controlled trial
  • straylight
  • visual function

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