Foundation announced Health Care Hero for Advancements in Health Care

The Indianapolis Business Journal hosts the annual Health Care Heroes Awards that honors a company or individual primarily responsible for a scientific discovery or for the development of a new procedure, device or service that can save lives or improve quality of life for a large number of people. The Cornea Research Foundation was nominated in their Advancements in Health Care category for DMEK. At the Awards Breakfast held at the Conrad, the Foundation was announced the winner. "We feel honored to have been chosen as the winner in Advancements in Health Care," said Marianne Price, the Foundation's Executive Director. She continued, "It has been through the voluntary assistance of cornea transplant recipients participating in our studies to track longitudinal data of transplant outcomes, the generous support of our donors who fund this research and the dedicated work of the doctors at Price Vision Group that have led us to such a revolutionary cornea transplant procedure." 

Click here to read the article from the Indianapolis Business Journal

The Nomination:

The Cornea Research Foundation has pioneered new procedures to improve vision for over two decades and has made a revolutionary advancement—a minimally invasive cornea transplant technique which provides excellent visual results and faster recovery. Most notably, it reduces the risk of graft rejection from 20% to below 1%, as documented in over 1,700 procedures performed in Indianapolis. This dramatic reduction in rejection risk improves patients’ quality of life and reduces the need for repeat surgery.

The Improvement:

The cornea acts as the windshield of the eye and is about the thickness of a credit card. With a traditional cornea transplant (penetrating keratoplasty), the entire central cornea is removed using a cookie cutter-like device and donor tissue is sewn into its place, typically with 16 sutures. The full thickness is replaced even though the underlying problem often is limited to a single cell layer lining the back of the cornea. 
With the procedure the Foundation has helped pioneer, called DMEK, the diseased cell layer, representing just 5% of the corneal thickness, is removed and replaced, and the patient retains 95% of their cornea. The donor tissue is held in place with an air bubble instead of sutures, which substantially reduces the risk of complications, such as infection. Manipulating the fragile donor tissue is a delicate process, so the Foundation has developed improved techniques, carefully documented the outcomes, and teaches these techniques to surgeons worldwide through presentations, peer-reviewed publications, textbooks, and courses.


Recovery can be complicated and take years after a traditional cornea transplant, because of the large incision and numerous sutures. Safer and more effective, DMEK is performed through a tiny incision, so visual recovery is rapid and patients are able to fully resume daily activities within a few short weeks. Most patients regain the 20/40 vision required to pass a driving test and can return to work by one to two weeks, maximizing productivity and quality of life.

Additional Benefits:

DMEK minimizes discomfort and use of post-operative medication. With penetrating keratoplasty, patients take anti-rejection medication for years, oftentimes indefinitely. Through tracking the outcomes of over 8,000 cornea transplants, the Foundation has documented that the anti-rejection medication will cause about 1 in 3 people to have elevated eye pressure, which can lead to glaucoma, a disease causing irreversible vision loss. The Foundation initiated randomized studies that demonstrated that patients can use lower strength eye drops and safely discontinue them at one year after DMEK, reducing the risk of permanent vision loss and medication expenses.
A striking 44 percent of those receiving DMEK and their families travel from out of state and internationally to stay for a week in Indianapolis, positively impacting our local economy. The Foundation hosts courses in Indianapolis for surgeons from around the world and is frequently represented at invited ophthalmic presentations globally, so that the hundreds of thousands of individuals needing a transplant but unable to travel can experience this truly life-changing procedure, in keeping with the Foundation’s Vision “That all who look may see” SM.

View other awards received by Drs. Francis and Marianne Price.

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