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July 2015 Issue

AAO 2015

The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) 2015 annual conference will be held in Las Vegas from November 14-17. This year SightLife and Ocular Systems will be providing educational sessions and demos on DMEK, KeraKlear and the EndoSerter, an innovative corneal endothelium delivery instrument. We will be at booth #3259, be sure to stop by! For conference information and registration visit



DMEK: Avoid Pitfalls and Ride the Wave
Eye Bank Prepared DMEK Tissue:
What a Surgeon Should Expect

Tuesday, June 23rd
5:30 PST/ 8:30 EST


  • Learn key steps to the DMEK surgical procedure
  • Get familiar with new tools; DMEK instruments
  • Learn efficient ways to consistently unfold donor Descemet's membrane
  • Avoid potential complications


  • Surgeons will understand the basics of eye bank prepared DMEK tissue
  • Surgeons will understand the evaluation process employed by eye banks after the tissue is prepared to ensure the quality of the tissue
  • Surgeons will understand how they would handle the tissue when they receive it from the eye bank
  • Surgeons will be given pearls on how to practice the procedure with their operating room staff prior to performing their first DMEK
  • Using new instruments to improve and simplify the DMEK procedure


Thomas John, MD

Clinical Associate Professor

Loyota University at Chicago Visiting Proffesor
Medical Faculty of Military Academy Belgrade, Serbia

Tim Baldwin, CEBT

Laboratory Director

Winston-Salem, NC

Watch the Webinar Here:

EBAA report

EBAA Releases 2014 Statistical Report

The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) recently released its 2014 Eye Banking Statistical Report that reflects information collected from all 76 US member eye banks and provides a complete picture of eye banking in the US. 

Some highlights are below:

  • Eye banks reported that they recovered 128,675 corneal tissues (4.5% increase over 2013) from 65,558 donors (5.3% increase over 2013).
  • There were 76,431 grafts provided by US eye banks for transplant. Total grafts distributed for transplant increased by 5.1%, while the number of transplants performed in the US declined by 1.4%, the first decline since 2005.
  • Use of PK grafts by US surgeons declined for the 10th year straight.  In 2014 PK surgeries declined by 7.9%
  • Use of EK grafts by US surgeons increased by 3.9%
  • DMEK grafts provided to US surgeons increased by 88%
  • Distribution of tissues for glaucoma shunt patches increased by 9.9%
  • 40% (28,064) of all keratoplasty procedures were performed for endothelial failure (Fuchs, post cataract surgery edema, and other causes of edema)
  • 22.1% (6,981) of all keratoplasty procedures were performed for stromal or full thickness diseases
  • Regraft rate was 9.8% (6,811), down from 9.9% last year
    • ALK (1.4%)
    • EK (8.2%)
    • PK (11.3%)

To download the entire report, visit

President Obama

Sustainable Growth Rate, Glaucoma Shunt and Graft Procedures and Advocating in Washington State

Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Repealed and Replaced

On April 16, 2015, President Obama signed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. This law permanently repealed and replaced the SGR formula and replaced with five years of 0.5% updates.  This law maintains a fee-for-service option and consolidates the current quality reporting programs.

CMS’ Reversal of Reimbursement Policy on Donor Tissue for Glaucoma Shunt Graft Procedures

In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a policy allowing for Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) to reimburse the cost of corneal allograft tissue used for coverage of a glaucoma aqueous shunt (CPT codes 66180, 66185).  Recently, CMS issued a proposed rule that would reverse that policy; effective January 1, 2016 corneal tissue would no longer be carved out from the fee for the shunt cover procedure.

CMS did not change the pass-through for transplant tissue. In fact, the proposed rule specifically states that the reimbursement policy for transplant tissue would remain unchanged.  ASCs should still reimburse the tissue separately using the V2785 code as they would for a corneal transplant (please note that sclera, pericardium, amniotic membrane and other tissues are not covered under this policy).  Also be aware that the policy excludes Hospital Outpatient Departments as CMS felt that the fee for HOPDs adequately covered the cost of the materials.  However, complaints from stakeholders (presumably those providing or using shunt covers other than cornea) led CMS to reconsider their recent policy change.

CMS is accepting public comment until August 31, and EBAA will vigorously oppose this reversal.  To this end, we have prepared a brief survey to gather more information about how your eye bank prices sclera and cornea; tissue for shunt cover procedures.  A similar survey will be sent to physicians to determine their costs and preferences among cornea, sclera, pericardium and amnion.  We’re seeking pricing information because CMS’ rationale for the change is predicated in part on the relative cost of shunt cover alternatives, and we want to see if their assumptions are accurate.

Please visit to complete the survey.   Your responses will not be shared with anyone outside of staff and will be reported only in aggregate.

Join SightLife To Advocate For Improved Access to Care From Washington State Medicaid

SightLife’s mission is to eliminate corneal blindness worldwide.  As part of this mission, patient access to high quality corneal tissue is paramount.  SightLife routinely monitors trends in the provision of corneal tissue to assess any obstacles in access to tissue and life-changing transplants.

One trend we have been investigating is access to care for patients who are on Medicaid.  Washington-based surgeons are concerned that patients enrolled under Medicaid programs in the state do not have access to appropriate care due to the reimbursement policies related to corneal transplantation and corneal tissue acquisition.

SightLife is leading an effort to engage Washington Apple Care on this issue to ensure patients have access to the latest surgical techniques and procedures.  If you are interested in learning more about our efforts, please contact Rusty Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer at

Are you experiencing issues with reimbursement for corneal tissue or facilities allowing you to perform corneal transplant procedures?

SightLife has extensive resources that can assist you or your facility in overcoming reimbursement challenges. You can discuss your issue with Rusty Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer at