About Corneal Transplantation

Overview

The cornea is the clear surface on the front of the eye. Corneal transplantation is used to selectively replace the diseased parts of the patient’s cornea. It is one of the most common transplants done.

According to the Eye Bank Association of America, since 1961, "more than 700,000 corneal transplants have been performed, restoring sight to men, women, and children ranging in age from nine days to 103 years." Depending on your condition, the success rate can be over 90 percent.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Corneal transplantation is recommended for people who have:

  • Vision loss caused by cloudiness of the cornea. This is called Fuchs' dystrophy.
  • Vision problems caused by thinning of the cornea. This is called keratoconus.
  • Scarring of the cornea from severe infections or injuries.

Preparing for Your Corneal Transplant Surgery

Prior to the surgery, the doctor will give the patient eye drops that are used to fight inflammation and infection. The area is then numbed with a local anesthesia in the form of an injection. The patient does have the option of being under general anesthesia for the procedure, but most of the time the surgery is performed with just local anesthesia.

What to Expect After Your Corneal Transplant Surgery

Recovery Time and Side Effects

While the corneal transplant only lasts about an hour, the recovery varies depending on the transplant. For endothelial keratoplasty, vision may completely recover in as little as six weeks while penetrating keratoplasty and anterior lamellar keratoplasty may take up to a year until full visual recovery.

Your Responsibilities After Surgery

Do not rub your eyes after surgery and follow all of your doctor's instructions after transplantation. You must also take anti-rejection drops after the transplant so your body doesn’t reject the tissue. If your body does reject the donor cornea, your vision will be cloudy and a second transplant may need to be performed.


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