A corneal transplant is a type of eye surgery that is performed in order to replace diseased, damaged or scarred corneal tissue with new healthy corneal tissue. Since damaged or scarred corneal tissue does not allow light to effectively pass into the eye and reach the retina, poor vision and even blindness may result from a damaged cornea. There are actually a number of different types of corneal transplants that can be performed, including:
This type of corneal transplant involves the surgical removal of the central two-thirds thickness of the damaged cornea. The cornea surgeon removes the central portion of the damaged or cloudy cornea with a “cookie cutter” like instrument called a trephine, and replaces it with a clear cornea obtained from the eye bank. They then very carefully sew the donor cornea into place using sutures that are thinner than a human hair. To facilitate the healing of the new transplanted cornea, they will usually prescribe eye drops for patients who have had corneal transplants. After they have determined that the new cornea has healed properly, they will remove the fine sutures or stitches that have been put in place during the surgery. Usually they will remove these sutures right in our office.
This is the most common type of corneal transplant. This type of transplant has the potential to provide the clearest vision after healing because there is no interface (layer) to look through. However, the healing time is longer and the use of a contact lens might be required for the clearest vision.
Cornea Surgeons may perform this type of corneal transplant if the damaged corneal tissue is mainly located in the outermost 50% of the cornea. Essentially, they will carefully dissect the outermost half of the cornea and remove it along with the damaged tissue. Then a new donor cornea is sewn into place. This type of corneal transplant is less invasive and will allow your eye to be stronger after surgery than it would be with a regular full thickness transplant, or Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK). However, in some cases there can be some loss of clarity from the interface between the new and remaining layers of the cornea.
This type of corneal transplant is performed through a small incision, to remove and replace the inner cell layer of the cornea when it stops working properly. With this technique, a corneal surgeon will gently “strip” off the single diseased cell layer, called the Endothelium, and leave the remaining cornea intact. They will then thinly slice a donor cornea from the eye bank and fold the back portion in half and insert it through a small incision into the eye. Finally, they will then use an air bubble to unfold and position the donor tissue on the recipient cornea. Within a few minutes the donor tissue attaches to the recipient without the use of any sutures. There are a number of advantages of DSAEK if you are indeed a candidate:
Corneal Transplants have become somewhat common in the United States as a treatment for damaged and cloudy corneas. Each year more than 40,000 people undergo corneal transplantation to restore their vision. If we find that other methods of treating your corneal disease or corneal condition are inadequate to give you good vision, we will fully discuss the risks and benefits of corneal transplantation and take the time necessary to answer all of your questions.
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