Corneal Transplantation

Corneal transplantation is a surgical procedure to replace part of a damaged or diseased cornea with corneal tissue from a donor. The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped surface on the front of the eye. It plays a large part in vision by helping to focus light onto the retina.

Reasons for Corneal Transplantation

If the cornea is cloudy or scarred, the light passing through the eye has trouble reaching the light-sensitive retina on the back of the eye. This can result in poor vision or blindness.

Several conditions can damage the cornea severely enough that a cornea transplant is needed, including:

  • Injury or infection of the cornea
  • Swelling or clouding of the cornea
  • Ulcers in the cornea, sometimes caused by infections
  • Problems caused by a previous eye surgery
  • Thinning of the cornea
  • Bulging outward of the cornea (keratoconus)

Risks of Corneal Transplantation

Cornea transplants have good success rates, but this surgery still carries some risks, such as:

  • Infection of the eye
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Problems caused by the stitches used to attach the donated corneal tissue
  • Increased pressure inside the eye (glaucoma)
  • Clouding of the lens of the eye (cataracts)
  • Rejection of the donated corneal tissue

Cornea Rejection

Because the donated corneal tissue comes from another person, your body’s immune system may mistakenly attack (reject) that tissue. This kind of cornea rejection occurs in about 20 percent of corneal transplantations.

If you have any of the following symptoms of cornea rejection for more than six hours, contact your eye doctor immediately.

  • Vision loss
  • Increased redness of the eye
  • Increased pain
  • Increased light sensitivity

Alternatives to Corneal Transplantation

Recent advances in technology have made it possible for doctors to treat certain corneal problems without the need for a corneal transplant. One of these new treatments is phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK), which uses an excimer laser and computer technology to remove irregular areas on the cornea that are interfering with vision.

If you are suffering from vision impairment or irregular symptoms affecting the eye, contact us to schedule an appointment, so we can evaluate your eye health and make treatment recommendations.