What is the cornea?
What is a corneal transplant?
A corneal transplant has been known to restore vision, enhance the look of a damaged or diseased cornea, and reduce pain in the cornea.
Is a corneal transplant right for me?
- Do you have a thin or cloudy cornea?
- Do you have corneal ulcers?
- Are you experiencing corneal scarring (caused either from injury or infection)?
- Does your cornea bulge outward (Keratoconus)?
- Are you experiencing complications from a previous eye surgery?
What is it like to have corneal transplant surgery?
Before your corneal transplant a number of things will occur. First, your doctor will give you a complete preoperative examination and will make every attempt to confirm optic nerve and retinal function prior to surgery. This can help to avoid cases in which visual improvement does not occur. Your doctor will also take specific measurements of your eye to determine what size cornea you will need from a donor.
You’ll be given a sedative to help you relax and a local anesthetic to numb your eyes. Children and anxious patients might require general anesthesia.
During the corneal transplant, your doctor will cut through the diseased or abnormal cornea to remove the corneal “button”; this is a disc of corneal tissue. A tool called a trephine, which looks like a cookie-cutter, is used to make the cut.
At this point, the donor tissue has been processed and is tested extensively to ensure that it is healthy and an ideal cornea for transplantation. It has also been cut to fit on the patient’s eye bed.
Once the bed is ready for the donor cornea, the donor cornea is gently set and sewn into its place with a very fine thread. The sutures remain intact for up to a year. Your doctor may remove them periodically at future visits.
Following Corneal Transplant surgery:
- You will receive several medications such as eye drops and sometimes oral medications. These help to control infection, pain, and swelling.
- You will wear a protective eye shield. The metal eye shield helps to protect your eye. You’ll wear the eye shield for a day or two immediately after surgery and then only at night for the next few days following surgery.
- You must protect your eyes from injury.
The first year after surgery you should expect to have frequent eye exams. Usually these exams are weekly at first and these are followed by monthly exams. Eventually you may be able to see your doctor only every few months.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Swelling of the cornea
- Infection of the eye
- Problems with the stitches that are used to transplant the donor cornea
- Corneal rejection
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of vision