Do you need a cornea transplant? If you have serious damage to your cornea, you might. A cornea transplant is one of the most successful transplant procedures available. It can save your vision.
What is a Cornea Transplant?
A cornea transplant, also referred to as penetrating keratoplasty (PK), is a procedure where a corneal tissue graft is used to replace damaged tissue on the surface of the eye. Since a damaged cornea may scatter the light coming into your eye and blur vision, replacing it should restore normal vision.
The chance of rejection in cornea transplants is relatively low. Roughly 80% of the time, corneal transplant recipients do not experience rejection. Even in a graft rejection scenario, techniques are available to manage the transplant, many of which lead to survival of the graft.
Who Can Receive a Cornea Transplant?
The doctor makes the decision regarding who is a good candidate for any transplant surgery. In general, corneal transplants are for patients with LASIK complications, keratoconus, fungal keratitis or corneal damage through chemical burns, infection or an accident resulting in injury to the eye. If an individual experiences severe vision problems that cannot be resolved with corrective lenses, he may consider corneal transplant surgery.
How Does the Cornea Transplant Procedure Work?
Since you are receiving a transplant, you will need a donor cornea. You will be put on a cornea recipient list. In most cases, a donor eye is available within a week or two.
A cornea transplant is an outpatient procedure, performed with local anesthesia. The surgeon uses equipment that holds the eye open, then cuts away the damaged portion of the cornea and sutures the healthy cornea in its place. The entire process takes an hour or two.
Vision will be blurry upon initial completion of the procedure, but returns gradually over the course of the next six months to a year. The surgeon will remove the sutures within three months, up to a year and a half after the surgery. The doctor will put a plastic shield over your eyes. It should remain in place as directed, to protect your eyes from being bumped or contacted. Patients who are experiencing excessive light sensitivity, pain, redness or a decrease in visual ability may be experiencing graft rejection and should contact their doctor.