The cornea is the dome-shaped front surface of the eye. It refracts light as it enters the eye, and plays an important role in your ability to focus. If the surface of the cornea is irregularly shaped, or if it is damaged through injury, disease, or infection, your vision can become compromised. In the event of serious trauma or an advanced corneal condition, a corneal transplant may be recommended. Our doctors’ extensive training in corneal transplantation can restore your vision and help you regain your independence.
Traditional Transplant and Advanced Treatment Options
A traditional cornea transplant, also known as penetrating keratoplasty, replaces the entire cornea with donor tissue. In some instances, only the innermost layer of the cornea needs to be replaced (endothelial keratoplasty). Our doctors are trained to safely perform Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK), a sophisticated technique that provides many patient benefits.
Endothelial keratoplasty using DSAEK involves a much smaller incision, resulting in a minimized risk of complications and reduced recovery time. This approach also allows surgery to be completed in less time. Your surgeon will use local or general anesthesia, or a combination of the two, to keep you comfortable and relaxed during the procedure.
Am I a Candidate for Corneal Transplant?
A range of conditions that can cause the cornea to become swollen, scarred, or misshapen can be treated with corneal transplant. If more conservative treatment options, like special contact lenses or eye drops, fail to restore health to the cornea, a tissue transplant can significantly improve your ocular health.
A corneal transplant may be recommended to treat scarring from infections like herpes or keratitis, genetic diseases such as Fuch’s dystrophy, keratoconus, or other conditions that cause the cornea to take on an irregular shape. This procedure can also repair the cornea following trauma like burns, and address rare complications associated with refractive or cataract surgery.
Roughly 40,000 cornea transplants are performed each year in the U.S. Corneal transplants have the highest success rate of any type of tissue graft. Success rates vary slightly depending on the condition that necessitated a transplant procedure. You can further reduce your already low risk of complications by choosing a highly trained doctor. Only you and your doctor can decide if and when a corneal transplant is right for you, and we can provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.