Risk and Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection on Corneal Transplantation: A Case-Control Study

Harry Levine, Paula A. Sepulveda-Beltran, Diego S. Altamirano, Alfonso L. Sabater, Sander R. Dubovy, Harry W. Flynn, Guillermo Amescua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of symptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection after corneal transplantation surgery, with cataract surgeries as controls, and the impact of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic in the clinical and surgical complications of corneal transplantation and cataract surgeries. Methods: A retrospective matched case-control study of 480 consecutive individuals who underwent surgery at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute between May 2020 and November 2020. A total of 240 patients who underwent corneal transplantation with tissue obtained from the Florida Lions Eye Bank were age, race, ethnicity, and sex matched with 240 patients who underwent cataract surgery during the same day and by the same surgical team. Only the first corneal transplant or cataract surgery during this period was considered for each individual. All donors and recipients were deemed SARS-CoV-2 negative by a nasopharyngeal polymerase chain reaction test before surgery. Postoperative SARS-CoV-2 infections were defined as previously SARS-CoV-2(2) individuals who developed symptoms or had a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test during the first postoperative month. Results: Mean age, sex, race, and ethnicity were similar between groups. There were no differences between the corneal transplant and cataract groups in the rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection before (5.8% vs. 7.5%, P= 0.6) or after surgery (2.9% vs. 2.9%, P = 1). The rates of postoperative complications did not increase during the pandemic, compared with previously reported ranges. Conclusions: In this study, postoperative SARS-CoV-2 infection was similar for individuals undergoing corneal transplantation or cataract surgery. Further research is required to evaluate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through corneal tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-231
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Cornea
  • Corneal transplantation
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk and Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection on Corneal Transplantation: A Case-Control Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this