What is a DSAEK?…

A DSAEK, which is short for Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty, is a newer, more sophisticated type of corneal transplant. Not everyone who requires a corneal transplant is a candidate for a DSAEK, but for those individuals who are a candidate, it is a wonderful option.

The cornea is the thin, clear piece of tissue at the front of the eye. It is the part of the eye that a contact lens sits on. In order to see your best, it must be clear and compact so that you can easily see through it. Should it become swollen, hazy or scarred, your vision would decrease dramatically.

A DSAEK can be thought of as a partial corneal transplant. Individuals who would benefit from a DSAEK are those people that have permanent damage or loss to the cells that line the inner layer of the cornea, known as the endothelium. These cells are responsible for keeping the cornea clear, compact and in a relatively dehydrated state so the cornea can be seen through the same way someone might see through a piece of glass. Damage to the endothelial cells results in a thickened, hazy cornea that becomes difficult to see through.

Historically, the only way to replace the endothelial cells was by performing a traditional, full thickness cornea transplant known as a penetrating keratoplasty. More recently, DSAEK has become an option. With a DSAEK, instead of replacing the entire cornea, we replace only the damaged endothelial cells of your cornea. First, we obtain a cornea from someone who has unfortunately died, but has donated his or her eyes. Next, we take a thin slice of the inner layer of the donor cornea (which includes the endothelial cells) and insert them into your eye. Once the new cells are transplanted into your eye, the goal is for them to attach to your native cornea and start working as your own cells. These new, healthy cells are able to clear up your own, natural cornea.

DSAEK has revolutionized the way we think about corneal transplants. DSAEK is the newer, less invasive way of performing a corneal transplant. It involves a much smaller incision and very few sutures. Recovery time is significantly reduced and your visual potential is reached much more quickly as compared to the traditional penetrating keratoplasty. This surgery is an outpatient procedure. It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. You go home the same day with a patch and shield over the eye and follow up the next day in the office. Here at North Shore Eye Care, a division of sight MD, we are able to provide this service to those individuals we feel would benefit from it. Call one of our offices today if you would like to learn more about the procedure. We are located in Queens and across long island in both nassau and suffolk county.

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