(Keratoplasty; Penetrating Keratoplasty)
Corneal transplant is a surgical procedure used to replace a portion of a diseased or damaged cornea with a healthy one. The cornea is the clear, outer surface on the front of the eye.
Reasons for Procedure
A corneal transplant can correct vision problems caused by infections, injuries, or medical conditions that effect the cornea. It is often recommended for the following:
The procedure is highly successful. Severe complications are rare. If you are planning to have a corneal transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
The operation is most successful for patients who have the following:
It is less successful for those who have corneal infection and severe injury, like a chemical burn.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your ophthalmologist may do a physical exam and blood tests.
Before the procedure:
Two types of anesthesia can be used during a corneal transplant:
Description of Procedure
The procedure will be done under a surgical microscope. The damaged part of the cornea will be cut out. The new cornea will then be placed in the opening. The new cornea will be fastened with very fine stitches. Finally, a patch and shield will be put over the eye.
There is another technique called Descemet's stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK). DSEK is used for some types of cornea transplants. It may result in shorter recovery time and better vision. With this technique, the doctor removes a much smaller part of the cornea, compared with older procedures.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may have slight soreness for a few days after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay
You will most likely go home after a few hours in the recovery area.
After you leave the hospital, you should rest for the remainder of the day. When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Your eye will be checked several times during the following weeks and months. Stitches are usually left in place for at least several months.
Vision may initially be worse than before your surgery before your eye adjusts to the new cornea. It may take several months for it to improve.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Eye Bank Association of America
The National Keratoconus Foundation
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Corneal surgery. The University of Mississippi Medical Center Department of Ophthalmology Services website. Available at: http://www.umc.edu... . Accessed June 27, 2013.
Corneal transplants. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelan... . Accessed June 27, 2013.
Corneal transplants. National Keratoconus Foundation website. Available at: http://www.nkcf.org/corneal-transplants/ . Accessed June 27, 2013.
Facts about the cornea and corneal disease. The National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/index.asp . Updated May 2013. Accessed June 27, 2013.
Frequently asked questions. Eye Bank Association of America website. Available at: http://www.restoresight.org/about-us/frequently-asked-questions/ . Accessed June 27, 2013.
New advance in cornea transplantation. Duke Health website. Available at: http://www.dukehea... . Updated July 10, 2009. Accessed June 27, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Eric L. Berman, MD; Michael Woods, MD