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Corneal Transplants

Corneal Transplant Surgery

 The cornea is the transparent front surface of the eye, positioned in front of the iris and pupils. It accounts for about 70% of the eye’s optical power and also most of the eye’s focusing power, so preserving its health is essential to vision. 

Corneal transplantation can preserve or restore the integrity of the cornea, improve vision and reduce pain when the cornea:

  • gets opaque or distorted 
  • thins and degenerates with age
  • suffers a trauma or infection 
  • bulges outward (keratoconus)
  • gets damaged in an operation

Corneal transplant surgery (aka. keratoplasty or corneal grafting) can be performed on an outpatient basis by an ophthalmologist or a surgeon specialized in eye surgery. 


How Is Corneal Transplant Surgery Performed?

  • Finding the right donor is the greatest challenge for doctors, but it should be noted that corneal transplants are not as scarce as other organs like kidneys or hearts. 
  • Eyes are examined and measurements are taken to decide the size of the corneal transplants. 
  • Corneal transplant surgery is done under local anesthesia and sedation, but the patient is awake during the operation. 
  • The incision is made in a precise circular form and the damaged cornea section is removed. Depending on the condition corneal transplantation can be:
  1. full-thickness transplant
  2. inner-layer transplant
  3. surface-layer transplant
  • The donor cornea is placed and the surgeon stitches it to its place with a very fine thread.
  • After the surgery doctors control pain and infection with eyedrops. Patients are instructed to wear a gauze covered by a metal shield for protection and reduce swelling.
  • In the first ear of  post-surgery your eyes need constant checkups to detect potential complications such as:
  • Infection and swelling of the cornea
  • Corneal transplant rejection
  • Glaucoma (high pressure within the eyeball)
  • Cataract

Life After Corneal Transplant Surgery

  • The majority of patients experience better vision and relieved pain after within 1-5 months post-surgery, however, annual visits are imperative even in the best case scenario.
  • If your immune system rejects the new cornea it should be treated by medication or by repeating the corneal transplantation. 
  • Some further vision improving measures might be necessary to treat the possible unevenness of the cornea and refractive errors.