Outcomes of implantation of an artificial cornea, AlphaCor: Effects of prior ocular herpes simplex infection

Celia R. Hicks, Geoffrey J. Crawford, Donald T. Tan, Grant R. Snibson, Tjahyono D. Gondhowiardjo, Dennis S C Lam, Nicholas Downie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. To review outcomes of AlphaCor artificial cornea implantation in patients with and without a history of ocular herpes simplex virus (HSV) and to determine whether herpetic eye disease is an indication for AlphaCor surgery. Methods. Outcomes of the initial 40 implantations were reviewed and stratified by the presence of a history of ocular disease caused by HSV. Outcomes measures (complications, visual acuity gained) were compared. Results. Eight of the 40 AlphaCor implantations (20%) were in patients with a history of ocular HSV. Six of these eight patients (75%) developed melt-related complications after AlphaCor insertion. Half of the affected patients required removal of the AlphaCor and replacement with a donor corneal graft to restore ocular integrity. In comparison, only six of the 32 (18.8%) patients without HSV developed a melt after AlphaCor insertion. Patients with HSV with devices in situ exhibited a mean loss of 0.3 line of best-corrected visual acuity compared with the preoperative visual acuity, whereas patients without HSV exhibited a mean gain of 1.4 lines of best-corrected visual acuity. Conclusions. The extensive lamellar corneal surgery involved in AlphaCor implantation may precipitate reactivation of latent HSV such that reactivation and resultant inflammation reduce device biointegration and facilitate melting of corneal stromal tissue anterior to the device. Although there may be some benefit from systemic antiviral medication, the current series is not large enough to demonstrate such a benefit, and melting can occur despite medication. The statistically significant difference in outcomes between recipients of AlphaCor with and without HSV is evidence that a history of HSV should be an exclusion factor for AlphaCor surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-690
Number of pages6
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002


  • Artificial cornea
  • Clinical trial
  • Herpes simplex virus.
  • Keratoprosthesis
  • Penetrating keratoplasty


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