PURPOSE: The objectives of the study were to evaluate the success of the simple limbal epithelial transplantation (SLET) method in the treatment of unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) due to chemical burn.
METHODS: Seventeen patients with unilateral LSCD due to chemical burn were included in this retrospective study. Mean age of patients was 50.3±20.8 (28–75) years. Mean duration of follow was 18.9±6.9 (12–24) months. In the recipient eye following peritomy, pannus tissue was cleared and covered with amniotic membrane with fibrin glue. Limbal stem cell received from the fellow eye was implanted cornea surface 2–3 mm inside limbus with fibrin glue on the amniotic membrane and placed contact lens. In control examination of all patients who completed minimum 12 months postoperatively, regression in corneal vascularization, duration of epithelial healing, visual acuity, need for keratoplasty, and complications (dropping of contact lenses, separation of amniotic membrane, and graft failure) were evaluated.
RESULTS: Corneal epithelization was completed between 4 and 6 weeks in all patients. Total and partial separations in the amniotic membrane occurred in two patients. Marked regression in corneal vascularization and increase in visual acuity was observed in all patients. Five patients (29.4%) underwent keratoplasty in the follow-up period. Limbal failure did not occur in healthy eyes. In two patients (11.7%), corneal vascularization recurred after 6 months.
CONCLUSION: SLET technique is an efficient method in unilateral LSCD in that it requires a lesser amount of donor tissue than keratolimbal autograft transplantation. Moreover, regress vascularization before keratoplasty in LSCD eyes may decrease graft rejection rates.