Corneal Transplant Eye Surgery
A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure where a diseased or damaged cornea is replaced with healthy corneal tissue, from organ donation. The cornea is the clear, outer layer of the eye. It focuses light rays onto the back of the eye, allowing images to be viewed. If the cornea becomes diseased or experiences an injury, it can cause swelling, scarring or clouding. This makes it difficult for the cornea to focus light, which may result in impaired vision and sometimes blindness. An ophthalmologist can determine if corneal transplant surgery is necessary during an eye test. This procedure can help restore vision, reduce pain and improve the appearance of a damaged or diseased cornea.
The most common causes of cornea damage
Bullous keratopathy- swelling of the cornea
Keratoconus- thinning or curving of the center of the cornea
Fuch's dystrophy- distorted vision and cornea swelling which causes cornea cells to deteriorate
Scarring- after various eye injuries
Corneal Transplant Surgery
Full Thickness Corneal Transplants- This type of implant is generally performed on an outpatient basis. Before the procedure begins, the patient is given either general or local anesthesia, along with a sedative to prevent discomfort. The damaged central portion of the cornea is measured and a piece of donated cornea, called a button, is secured to the patient's eye using sutures. Adjustments are made to ensure a proper fit, and antibiotic drops are applied to help prevent infection. The procedure is usually preformed in an hour.
DSAEK Corneal Transplant- This type of implant removes only the inner layer of the cornea (endothelial cells), which are replaced with a donor button of endothelial cells. The post operative course is the same as the Full Thickness Corneal Transplant.
Corneal Transplant Recovery
In most cases, patients will have the majority of their vision restored after their corneal transplant. Outcomes are also based on the reason for the eye surgery and the patient's health conditions. Following surgery, a shield or patch must be worn while the wound heals. Drops must be used to prevent both infection and corneal transplant rejection. The patient's progress is closely monitored for several months afterward. Visual acuity and discomfort should progressively improve throughout the healing process. Severe pain, irritation, redness or light sensitivity are all warning signs of infection or implant rejection. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact our office immediately.
Alternatives to Corneal Transplants
In some circumstances, other options may be available to help restore the cornea when it is not severely damaged or diseased.
Lamellar Keratoplasty- This procedure replaces a portion of the corneal tissue when the top layer of the cornea is damaged. Recovery is quicker because less of the cornea is affected.
Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)- This is recommended for patients who have scars, some types of infections and corneal dystrophies. PTK uses a computer guided excimer laser to remove microscopic layers of corneal tissues to correct irregularities that inhibit vision. Recovery from this procedure generally takes a few days.
If you have questions about eye diseases or eye problems, we encourage you to contact us at 1-773-467-7664 to schedule a exam.