Anesthesia type: General or Local
Duration: 1 hour , one night at the hospital.
The cornea is the clear outer lens on the front of the eye. A corneal transplant is a surgery to replace the cornea with tissue from a donor. It is one of the most common transplants done.
You will probably be awake during the transplant. You will get medicine to relax you. Local anesthesia (numbing medicine) will be injected around your eye to block pain and prevent eye movement during the surgery.
The tissue for your corneal transplant will come from a person (donor) who has recently died. The donated cornea is processed and tested by a local eye bank to make sure it is safe for use in your surgery.
The most common type of corneal transplant is called penetrating keratoplasty. During this procedure, your surgeon will remove a small round piece of your cornea. The donated tissue will then be sewed into the opening of your cornea.
A newer technique is called lamellar keratoplasty. In this procedure, only the inner or outer layers of the cornea are replaced, rather than all the layers. This technique can lead to faster recovery and fewer complications.
A corneal transplant is recommended for people who have:
- Vision problems caused by thinning of the cornea, most often due to keratoconus. (A transplant may be considered when less invasive treatments are not an option.)
- Scarring of the cornea from severe infections or injuries
- Vision loss caused by cloudiness of the cornea, most often due to Fuchs' dystrophy
The body may reject the transplanted tissue. This occurs in about one out of three patients in the first 5 years. Rejection can sometimes be controlled with steroid eye drops.
Other risks for a corneal transplant are:
- Infection of the eye
- Glaucoma (high pressure in the eye that can cause vision loss)
- Loss of vision
- Scarring of the eye
- Swelling of the cornea
Preparation Before Surgery
Tell your health care provider about any medical conditions you may have, including allergies. Also tell your provider what medicines you are taking, even drugs, supplements, and herbs you bought without a prescription.
You may need to limit medicines that make it hard for your blood to clot (blood thinners) for 10 days before the surgery. Some of these are aspirin, ibuprofen and warfarin
You will need to have someone drive you home after your surgery.
You will go home on the same day as your surgery. Your doctor will give you an eye patch to wear for about 1 to 4 days.
Your doctor will prescribe eye drops to help your eye heal and prevent infection and rejection.
Your doctor will remove the stitches at a follow-up visit. Some stitches may stay in place for as long as a year, or they might not be removed at all.
Full recovery of eyesight may take up to a year. This is because it takes time for the swelling to go down. Most people who have a successful corneal transplant will have good vision for many years. If you have other eye problems, you may still have vision loss from those conditions. .
You may need glasses or contact lenses to achieve the best vision