Corneal transplantation at Tenwek Hospital, Kenya, East Africa: Analysis of outcomes and associated patient socioeconomic characteristics

Michael C. Chen, Allen R. Kunselman, Christy M. Stetter, Sadeer B. Hannush, Benjamin W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: To review the graft survival rate, visual outcomes, and patient demographics of primary penetrating keratoplasty performed at Tenwek Hospital, a mission hospital in rural Kenya. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of the clinical records of patients who underwent primary penetrating keratoplasty for optical purposes from January 2012 to October 2014. The graft survival rates were constructed using the Kaplan-Meier method, and the effect of clinical and socioeconomic characteristics on time to graft failure were examined using Cox regression models. Results: 118 patients met the inclusion criteria. The most common indication for surgery was keratoconus (66.1%), followed by corneal scar (22.0%). Despite all patients giving a verbal commitment to do so, 40 patients (33.9%) failed to make it to followup one year postoperatively. Graft survival at one year, inclusive of all indications, was 85.8%. Of the different indications, keratoconus had the highest one-year graft survival rate of 89.9%. Compared to the preoperative uncorrected visual acuity, 85.3% achieved an improvement at one year. Compared to patients who had completed college or university, the risk of developing graft failure was 4.7 times higher among patients with less education (P = 0.01). Conclusions: Corneal transplantation at Tenwek Hospital can be performed with a reasonable chance of success at one year, particularly in cases of keratoconus and in patients with higher educational backgrounds. Adherence to followup recommendations proves to be a challenge in this patient population. Additional studies of larger patient populations with longer follow up periods in similar settings may be helpful in informing appropriate patient selection and maximizing successful outcomes of corneal transplantation in low-resource settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0187026
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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