A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces damaged cornea tissue with healthy cornea tissue from a donor. The surgery can be performed for people who have poor vision due to corneal disease. The need for a corneal transplant can arise from corneal trauma or infections resulting in corneal scars, corneal swelling after eye surgery, corneal swelling from Fuchs’ dystrophy, keratoconus, or other eye diseases. If vision cannot be improved with glasses or contact lenses, and the rest of the eye appears healthy, a corneal transplant may be an option to help improve vision.
A corneal transplant is an outpatient surgery performed with local or general anesthesia and generally takes less than an hour to complete. Unlike other organ transplants, which require long waiting periods, corneas are generally available when requested.
There are two types of corneal transplants:
Full Thickness Corneal Transplant- A section of cornea containing all the layers of the cornea is removed from the eye and transplanted with the donor cornea of the same size. Sutures are used to keep the cornea in position and these are removed gradually over time.
DSEK Corneal Transplant- This procedure transplants only the inner most layer(s) of the cornea. A small incision is made in the eye and the damaged cornea layer is removed and replaced with the donor cornea layer. Instead of stitches, an air bubble is used to hold the layer in place until it heals.
The healing time for a corneal transplant is longer than other eye surgeries but it is proven to be highly successful. Vision will improve slowly, often taking several months. If necessary, to achieve the best vision, contact lenses may be needed.
For more information on corneal transplant surgery, or to schedule an appointment with our cornea specialist, call (610) 696-1230.