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What is Cornea Transplant?

Cornea transplant surgery replaces the cornea, the clear front layer of your eye. Your surgeon will remove damaged or diseased corneal tissue during this procedure. The damaged cornea is replaced with healthy corneal tissue from a deceased human donor’s eye. Corneal transplant surgery restores clear vision and improves the quality of life for many people. The clear, dome-shaped cornea shields the eyes from dirt, germs, and other particles, as well as harmful UV light. The cornea, in collaboration with the lens of the eye, focuses light that enters the eye, allowing for clear vision.

Why Cornea transplant is performed?

A cornea transplant is most commonly used to restore vision to someone who has had their cornea damaged. A cornea transplant can also alleviate pain and other symptoms caused by corneal diseases.

A cornea transplant can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Keratoconus is a condition in which the cornea bulges outward.
  • Fuchs dystrophy is a genetic disorder.
  • Corneal thinning or tearing.
  • Scarring of the cornea caused by infection or injury.
  • The cornea is swollen.
  • Corneal ulcers that are resistant to medical treatment.
  • Complications from prior eye surgery.

Risk associated with Cornea transplant?

Cornea rejection is one of the most concerning complications of cornea transplant. Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system recognizes the donated cornea as foreign and attempts to reject the transplant.

Other complications associated with cornea transplant surgery include:

  • Infection of the eyes.
  • Glaucoma is an increase in intraocular pressure.
  • There were issues with the stitches used to secure the donor cornea.
  • The donor cornea is rejected.
  • Bleeding.
  • Retinal issues, such as detachment or swelling.

What can you expect prior to the Cornea transplant procedure?

You will have the following procedures performed prior to cornea transplant surgery:

  • A comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor looks for conditions that could lead to complications following surgery.
  • Eye measurements. Your eye doctor will determine the size of the donor cornea you require.
  • A review of all medications and supplements being taken. Certain medications or supplements may need to be stopped before or after your cornea transplant.
  • Treatment for additional eye conditions. Unrelated eye problems, such as infection or swelling, can jeopardize the success of a cornea transplant. These issues will be addressed by your eye doctor prior to surgery.
  • Identifying a corneal donor. Transplanted corneas come from deceased people. Corneas from unknown-cause deaths are not used. Corneas from people who had eye surgery, eye disease, or contagious diseases are also not used. Cornea transplant recipients don’t need tissue matching.

What experiences you encounter during a Cornea transplant procedure?

Your surgeon will recommend one of three cornea transplant surgeries. The cause of corneal damage, your cornea’s condition, and your needs determine your surgeon’s treatment. Your surgeon may advise against a corneal transplant if it does not improve your vision. Your cornea will come from a deceased donor regardless of the type of transplant. Each donor cornea is tested for transplant safety. The cornea is three-layered. Each surgical option targets a layer.

Penetrating keratoplasty. A full-thickness cornea transplant is performed. Your surgeon removes a small disk of corneal tissue from the irregular or diseased cornea. A special tool cuts this precise circle. Cut donor corneas are inserted. Your surgeon stitches the new cornea in place. Eye doctors may remove stitches later.

Endothelial keratoplasty. Endothelial keratoplasty is two-fold. These procedures remove diseased back corneal tissue. The Descemet membrane is attached to the endothelium. Replaced tissue is donated. DSEK replaces up to one-third of the cornea with donor tissue. DMEK, the second procedure, uses a thinner donor tissue layer. DMEK uses fragile, thin tissue. This operation is harder than DSEK but widely used.

Anterior lamellar keratoplasty (ALK). Two methods remove diseased tissue from the corneal epithelium and stroma. The back endothelial layer remains. ALK surgery depends on cornea damage. SALK replaces only the cornea’s front layers. This preserves healthy stroma and endothelium. When cornea damage extends into the stroma, DALK is performed. A donor’s healthy tissue replaces the removed corneal tissue. Grafting involves this.

What experiences do you encounter after the Cornea transplant procedure is done?

Following your cornea transplant, you should expect to:

Take your medications. Infection, swelling, and pain can all be controlled with eye drops and other medications. Eye drops that suppress the immune system aid in the prevention of corneal rejection.

Wear safety glasses. Eye shields or glasses will keep your eye safe while it heals.

Lie down on your back. You may have to do this for a while after surgery depending on the type of transplant. This aids in the retention of the new tissue.

Prevent injury. Plan on resting after your cornea transplant. When your eye surgeon approves, gradually resume your normal activities, including exercise. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye. You’ll have to take extra precautions for the rest of your life to avoid damaging your eye.

Return for regular check-ups. In the year following surgery, you should expect to see your eye doctor on a regular basis. This is to track your progress and look for problems.

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