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December 7, 1965, will mark the 60th year since the Austrian ophthalmologist, Konrad Zirm, performed the first penetrating corneal transplant to remain transparent. This feat was a milestone in the development of one of the most fascinating aspects of corneal research.
Previous attempts to transplant corneas had not been lacking. Although the true originator of the idea is unknown, Reisinger seems to have conducted the first grafting experiments with animals in the early 1820's. During the remainder of the 19th century, many surgeons attempted corneal grafts between animals and humans and, finally, between humans. However, due to lack of anesthesia, aseptic surgical conditions, and suitable instrumentation, these efforts usually resulted in nightmarish extrusions and panophthalmitis. Nevertheless, one must admire the perseverance of those early pioneers in continuing work which seemed so hopeless of success in their time.
After Zirm's break-through, penetrating keratoplasty progressed under the skillful hands of Elsching, Filatov,
Dohlman CH. Keratoplasty Sexagenarium. Arch Ophthalmol. 1965;74(6):739-740. doi:10.1001/archopht.1965.00970040741001