A corneal transplant may restore vision in poorly seeing eyes. The most common indication for this type of surgery is corneal decompensation following cataract surgery.
Full thickness and partial thickness cornea transplants are time-tested remedies for keratoconus. By replacing the steep cornea with a sutured donor cornea, a relatively normal curvature can be restored.
The Procedure – In Detail
A complete preoperative evaluation is required prior to corneal transplant surgery, and every attempt to confirm retinal and optic nerve function is made prior to the procedure.
The majority of adult patients have surgery under local anesthesia. General anesthesia is often required for children, anxious, or complex patients. After the anesthetic is given, the surgeon may sew a ring to the ocular surface to support the eye.
The donor cornea is prepared using a punch or corneal trephine to create the corneal “button.” The corneal button becomes the transplanted cornea. The diseased, or scarred, cornea is then removed using a corneal trephine, creating a “recipient site” for the transplanted tissue. Finally, the donor cornea is gently sewn into place with ultra-fine sutures (approximately one-third the thickness of human hair).
Corneal transplantation may be combined with other procedures, particularly cataract extraction with intraocular lens implantation.
Postoperatively, patients should expect a very gradual recovery of vision. In fact, the best vision may not be obtained for six to 12 months or more following surgery. Vision may, however, be improved immediately after surgery.
The surgeon will occasionally remove some sutures from the cornea within a few months after surgery. In general, sutures are removed to help alleviate astigmatism once the cornea shows signs of being securely healed into place.
The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis so that the patient is able to leave the surgery center the same day. Patients are advised to arrange for someone to drive them to and from surgery.
Cornea Transplant Explanation
Thomas Harvey MD Opthalmologist explains how donated cornea can help people that have been blinded by cornea disease.