Eye Bank takes steps to improve tissue preparation in order to save time for surgeons.
When we imagine operating rooms we picture them bustling with activity—doctors, nurses and technologists feverishly working to restore sight to a patient. But for Dr. David Rootman, and other cornea surgeons like him, booking an operating room to quietly and meticulously prepare cornea tissue for transplantation was traditionally a normal part of his surgical day.
“It used to take me between 20 and 30 minutes per cornea to prepare the tissue for surgery,” Dr. Rootman explains.
Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)
In 2017, the Eye Bank of Canada (Ontario Division) at Kensington Health began implementing the process to prepare the latest type of tissue for corneal transplantation— Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty. It is a type of corneal transplantation that replaces only a very thin inner layer of tissue called Descemet’s Membrane. Centralizing the preparation of this critical tissue not only frees up time for cornea surgeons like Dr. Rootman, but it also has additional benefits for the health care system, like cost savings and standardized quality of service.
“With the Eye Bank on track to become fully equipped and trained to prepare DMEK tissue in advance, I’ll be able to focus on my number one priority—my patients,” says Dr. Rootman.
The availability of DMEK tissue is also important to patients, as it is the most patient-centric eye transplant technique. It is the least invasive, with the shortest recovery times (10 days versus to two to 12 months for other types of cornea transplants), and has a reduced chance of tissue rejection. It also boasts the best vision outcomes.
Pat Ramsden agrees. She had the procedure in March 2017 with Dr. Clara Chan. Her vision had deteriorated to a point where she no longer felt comfortable driving and risked losing her independence. What she found most surprising about the procedure was the speed of her recovery.