Corneal transplantation is performed when a patient’s own cornea is damaged, inflamed or deformed, often resulting in loss of visual acuity and/or pain. During the procedure, all or part of the patient’s cornea is replaced with the cornea from a donor. Corneal transplantation normally has a high success rate. This is attributable to the privileged immune status of the cornea, which reduces rejection episodes common in other organ transplant situations.
However, when pathological blood vessels invade the cornea, a condition known as pathologic corneal neovascularisation (CNV), this compromises the privileged immune status so the risk of graft rejection becomes much higher. In such situations, such as transplantation due to infection or trauma, reducing corneal neovascularisation in connection with corneal transplant could reduce the risk of graft rejection. This could in turn save both eye sight and free up grafts for additional patients, which is important due to the global shortage of corneal grafts.