With many new options, regarding cornea transplantation, it’s no wonder that a patient needing a full-thickness cornea transplant (or PKP) is becoming a second-tier choice for surgeons. However, there are cases where one needs this type of therapy in order to see better. These can include advanced keratoconus, scarring or infections that involve or involve the full thickness, and failure of a previous corneal transplantation.
One thing that patients need to know about PKPs is that the healing time can be up to a year and after that, removal of stitches may be necessary to reduce astigmatism of the eye so we can fit a contact lens or calculate the right glasses power to improve the vision of the eye. Do not assume you’re going to see well the next day, and also don’t freak out about it either. Healing takes time, and patience will pay off in the long run.
The surgery entails removing the central 7-9mm of the central cornea and replacing it with a screened donor cornea. Luckily, matching a blood-type is not necessary with cornea transplantation, so corneas are generally available. It’s rare that one’s surgery has to be delayed. After surgery, you’ll be asked to use medicated eye drops and you may need to be on one eye drop a day for the rest of your life in order to prevent rejection.
Although it sounds daunting, patients generally do well with PKPs and it can dramatically change their vision and their lives!