Corneal transplant surgery involves the removal of a patient’s diseased or damaged cornea and replacing it with a healthy donor cornea. The cornea is the clear element at the front of the human eye, which begins to refract (focus) incoming light and pass it through to the inner eye. When the cornea becomes misshapen, cloudy, scarred or otherwise damaged, there are a variety of treatments available. An ophthalmologist resorts to a corneal transplant when other methods of treatment have been exhausted. The corneal transplant is the most commonly performed, and most successful, of all transplant surgeries.
RandaGarrana MD specializes in corneal surgery, including corneal transplant surgery. When the cornea becomes damaged or is diseased, we can remove the cornea and replace it with a donor’s healthy cornea. The cornea is an essential part of the eye, located at the very front of the eye where light comes in. the cornea refracts the light and passes it into the inner eye.
The cornea is unable to focus incoming light if it comes misshapen, cloudy (cataracts), or damaged in some other way. We can treat corneal damage with a variety of treatments. Our New York City ophthalmologist, Dr. Garrana, will only utilize corneal transplant surgery when other less invasive treatment methods are exhausted or unusable. Corneal transplants are very common and are among the most successful of transplant surgeries.
Causes for Corneal Transplant
Corneal transplants are not necessary for all corneal issues. However, some conditions may necessitate a complete removal and transplant:
- Complications from previous eye surgeries which caused cornea failure.
- Dystrophy of the cornea.
- Eye trauma causing scarring.
- Hereditary problems with the cornea.
- Keratoconus, a disease in which the cornea degenerates into a steep cone shape.
- Rejection of previous corneal transplant.
- Corneal infections causing scarring.
Doctors usually prefer to exhaust other, non-invasive forms of treatment first. However, when problems of vision and/or pain can no longer be treated with glasses, contacts, pharmaceuticals or other specialized treatments, corneal transplant surgery is a viable solution.
If you are experiencing pain or vision problems that glasses, contacts, and medications cannot address, then corneal surgery may be right for you. Please call our office for a consultation.
Once you and your doctor have concluded that corneal transplant surgery is right for you, the first step is to find a suitable donor match. We work with an eye bank to carefully screen donor corneas for diseases and for cornea clarity.
You may receive either a local or a general anesthetic so that you experience minimal discomfort during the procedure. The doctor uses a speculum to hold the eye open during surgery. Then, the surgeon uses a specialized blade called a trephine to remove the failed cornea. We then cut a matching portion of tissue from the donor cornea and place it in the host eye. We suture the cornea to the eye with thin, precise stitching to ensure an exact fit. Finally, you will receive antibiotic eye drops and a patch to wear over the eye while it heals.
We recommend that you rest the day of and after the surgery. We will see you again the next day for a post-operative appointment. We’ll determine if you can resume some gentle activities. You will still wear glasses or a shield over the eye for a while, and continue to use prescribed eye drops. After one week, you can resume more strenuous activities like exercise if your surgeon approves. The stitches will remain in the eye for a few months to a year or more. You should continue to watch for signs of complication with the transplant and contact us immediately if you experience anything abnormal.
To learn more about this surgery and find out if it the right step for you at this time, please give us a call.