Cornea transplant : Detailed explanation

What Is Corneas Transplantation?

Cornea transplant is a technique that replaces your cornea, the clean front layer of your eye. During this process, your health care professional removes broken or diseased corneal tissue. Healthy corneal tissue from the attention of a deceased human donor replaces the broken cornea. For many human beings, cornea transplant surgical operation restores clear imaginative and prescient and improves their nice existence.

Corneal transplantation is a manner used to help prevent or restore imaginative and prescient loss attributable to harm to the cornea. The cornea is the clear, front part of the eye that allows light to enter and awareness. When broken, the cornea can turn out to be cloudy or trade form, every so often causing imaginative and prescient impairment or loss.

Medical Term

Corneal transplantation, also known as corneal grafting or keratoplasty, is a surgical procedure aimed at replacing a damaged or diseased cornea with a healthy cornea from a donor. The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped front surface of the eye that covers the iris (colored part of the eye) and the pupil. It plays a crucial role in focusing light onto the retina, allowing us to see clearly.

There are several conditions that can lead to corneal damage or disease, including:

  • Corneal Scarring: Scarring can result from injuries, infections, or certain diseases, leading to a loss of transparency and visual impairment.

  • Keratoconus: This is a progressive condition in which the cornea becomes thin and cone-shaped, distorting vision.

  • Fuchs' Dystrophy: A degenerative disorder that affects the cells on the innermost layer of the cornea, leading to swelling, clouding, and reduced vision.

  • Corneal Edema: Fluid buildup in the cornea can cause it to become cloudy and affect vision.

  • Corneal Degeneration: Various genetic or age-related conditions can cause the cornea to lose its clarity.

During a corneal transplantation procedure:

  • Donor Cornea: A healthy cornea is obtained from a deceased donor who has agreed to donate their eyes for transplantation after death. The donor cornea is carefully screened for any infections or diseases to ensure its suitability for transplantation.

  • Recipient Surgery: The damaged or diseased cornea of the recipient is removed, and the donor cornea is trimmed and shaped to fit the recipient's eye.

  • Transplantation: The donor cornea is then placed onto the recipient's eye and stitched in place with very fine sutures. In some cases, newer techniques involve using a laser to create a precise incision and inserting the donor cornea without sutures.

  • Healing Process: After the surgery, the eye must heal, and the sutures (if used) gradually dissolve over time. It can take several months for the vision to stabilize and improve.

Corneal transplantation has a relatively high success rate and can significantly improve visual function and quality of life for individuals with corneal disorders. However, there are potential risks and complications associated with the procedure, such as graft rejection, infection, and astigmatism. Close post-operative monitoring and follow-up care are essential to ensure the success of the transplant.

It's important to consult with an ophthalmologist if you or someone you know is experiencing corneal problems to determine the most suitable treatment option, which may include corneal transplantation.

How good is vision after corneal transplant?

In most instances, traditional corneal transplant techniques can most effectively restore vision to twenty/30, but with DMEK, sufferers can obtain best 20/20 vision with a restoration time as brief as some weeks.

Why would someone get a cornea transplant?

Cornea transplants are typically done to correct issues along with your eyesight because of certain clinical situations. They're additionally from time to time used to alleviate aches in a damaged or diseased eye, or to treat emergencies along with severe infection or damage.

Types of cornea transplant

Advances in corneal transplantation allow for changing all or a part of the cornea, relying on the area of harm. As a much less invasive technique, a partial cornea transplant may have advantages, together with decreased dangers and faster recuperation. The forms of transplant methods consist of the following:

  • Endothelial keratoplasty Involves replacing the inner layer of the cornea with a healthy internal layer of a donor cornea. This is used for sufferers with endothelial dystrophy including Fuchs’ dystrophy.

  • Anterior lamellar keratoplasty Entails changing the outer layer of the cornea with a healthy outer layer of a donor cornea. This is on the whole utilized in sufferers with keratoconus and scarring of the uppermost layers of the cornea.

  • Penetrating keratoplasty Entails replacing the entire cornea with a wholesome donor cornea. This is the desired method while all layers of cornea are opaque.

  • Keratoprosthesis Includes replacing the whole cornea with a synthetic cornea. This method is used while a cornea is so significantly damaged that it can't be repaired with a natural donor cornea or while a previous donor cornea transplant has failed.

Transplant surgeons and the team supervising the surgery

They include:

Why is this done?

A cornea transplant is most usually used to repair vision to someone with a broken cornea. A cornea transplant can also relieve pain or different signs and signs associated with cornea sicknesses.

A variety of conditions can be dealt with with a cornea transplant, which include:

  • A cornea that bulges outward (keratoconus)

  • Fuchs' dystrophy, a hereditary condition

  • Thinning or tearing of the cornea

  • Cornea scarring, caused by infection or injury

  • Swelling of the cornea

  • Corneal ulcers not responding to medical treatment

  • Complications caused by previous eye surgery

Risks Cornea transplant

Corneal transplantation is one of the maximum successful tissue/organ transplant techniques. Cornea transplant is surprisingly secure. Still, it does convey a small risk of significant headaches, along with:

  • Eye infection

  • Pressure increase within the eyeball (glaucoma)

  • Problems with the stitches used to secure the donor cornea

  • Rejection of the donor cornea

  • Bleeding

  • Retinal problems, such as retinal detachment or swelling

Symptoms of cornea rejection

Your frame's immune gadget can mistakenly assault the donor cornea. This is known as rejection, and it might require clinical treatment or any other cornea transplant.

Make an urgent appointment with your eye doctor in case you be aware signs and symptoms and signs and symptoms of rejection, together with:

  • Loss of vision

  • Eye pain

  • Red eyes

  • Sensitivity to light

Rejection occurs in about 10% of cornea transplants.

Prepare for the procedure

Before cornea transplant surgery, you will undergo:

  • A thorough eye exam. Your eye physician appears for conditions that could reason complications after surgical operation.

  • Measurements of your eye. Your eye physician determines what length of donor cornea you want.

  • A review of all medications and supplements you're taking. You can also want to prevent taking positive medicines or supplements earlier than or after your cornea transplant.

  • Treatment for other eye problems. Unrelated eye issues, which includes contamination or infection, can reduce your possibilities of a successful cornea transplant. Your eye doctor will treat the ones troubles earlier than your surgery.

Find the cornea

Corneas used in cornea transplants come from people who have died. Corneas aren't used from folks that died from unknown causes or from donors who had sure situations, inclusive of diseases which could unfold, previous eye surgical treatment or eye ailment.

Unlike with organs which include livers and kidneys, humans needing cornea transplants don't require tissue matching. In the US, donor corneas are broadly available so there is commonly now not a long waiting list.

Transplant a portion of the cornea

A cornea transplant gets rid of both the whole thickness or partial thickness of the diseased cornea and replaces it with healthy donor tissue. Your cornea medical professional will decide which method to use. These types of techniques encompass:

  • Penetrating keratoplasty (PK) A complete-thickness­­ cornea transplant. Your medical professional cuts via the complete thickness of the odd or diseased cornea to dispose of a small button-sized disk of corneal tissue. A unique instrument is used to make this particular circular reduction.
    The donor cornea, cut to match, is positioned in the establishment. Your surgeon then uses stitches (sutures) to sew the brand new cornea into the region. The stitches might be removed at a later visit with your eye health practitioner.

  • Endothelial keratoplasty (EK). These procedures put diseased tissue from the back corneal layers, such as the endothelium and a thin layer of tissue that protects the endothelium from harm and infection (Descemet membrane). Donor tissue replaces the removed tissue.
    There are two styles of endothelial keratoplasty. The first type, referred to as Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK), uses donor tissue to update about one-1/3 of the cornea.
    The second type, referred to as Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), makes use of a miles thinner layer of donor tissue. The tissue used in DMEK is extraordinarily skinny and fragile. This procedure is more difficult than DSEK and is generally used.

  • Anterior lamellar keratoplasty (ALK). Two distinct methods take away diseased tissue from the front corneal layers, including the epithelium and the stroma, however go away the lower back endothelial layer in location.
    The intensity of cornea damage determines the type of ALK process it truly is right for you. Superficial anterior lamellar keratoplasty (SALK) replaces the front layers of your cornea, leaving the healthy stroma and endothelium intact. A deep anterior lamellar transplant (DALK) system is used whilst cornea harm extends deeper into the stroma. Healthy tissue from a donor is then attached (grafted) to update the removed element.

  • Artificial cornea transplant (keratoprosthesis). In some cases, if people are not eligible for a cornea transplant from a donor cornea, they might obtain a synthetic cornea (keratoprosthesis).

Your doctor will discuss which method of corneal transplant surgical operation is high-quality for you, what to expect during the process and provide an explanation for the dangers of the method.

What you can expect from the procedure

During the procedure

On the day of your cornea transplant, you will both accept a sedative that will help you loosen up and a neighborhood anesthetic to numb your eye, or you will be put to sleep. Either manner, you should not feel pain.

Surgery is accomplished on one eye at a time. The quantity of time spent in surgery is distinctive and depends on your scenario.

After the procedure

Once your cornea transplant is completed, you can expect to:

  • Receive medications. Eye Drops and, from time to time, oral medications immediately after cornea transplant and all through healing will assist control infection, swelling and pain. Eye Drops to suppress the immune system assist prevent cornea rejections.

  • Wear eye protection. Eye shields or glasses guard your eye as it heals.

  • Lie on your back. Depending on the form of transplant, you may ought to do this for a while after surgical operation to help the new tissue live in the region.

  • Avoid injury. Plan to take it smooth after your cornea transplant, and slowly paint your way up on your normal sports, along with exercise. Don't rub or press on your eye. For the relaxation of your life, you may want to take more precautions to avoid harming your eye.

  • Return for frequent follow-up exams. Expect to see your eye health practitioner frequently within the year after surgical procedure to reveal your progress and look for complications.


Most folks that receive a cornea transplant will have their vision at least in part restored. What you can expect after your cornea transplant depends on the purpose for your surgical procedure and your fitness.

Your risk of complications and cornea rejection is maintained for years after your cornea transplant. For this motive, see your eye medical doctor yearly. Cornea rejection can regularly be managed with medicinal drugs.

Vision correction after surgery Cornea transplant

Your imaginative and prescient might to start with be worse than earlier than your surgery as your eye adjusts to the brand new cornea. It can take numerous months for your imagination and patience to enhance.

Once the outer layer of your cornea has healed — numerous weeks to numerous months after surgical procedure — your eye medical doctor will work to make changes which could enhance your imaginative and prescient, inclusive of:

  • Correcting unevenness in your cornea (astigmatism). The stitches that maintain the donor cornea in the region to your eye might motivate dips and bumps for your cornea, making your vision blurry in spots. Your medical doctor may accurately measure this by liberating some stitches and tightening others.

  • Correcting vision problems. Refractive errors, inclusive of nearsightedness and farsightedness, may be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or, in some cases, laser eye surgical treatment.

Contact my surgeon


  • Eye pain

  • Eye redness

  • Hazy or cloudy vision

  • Sensitivity to light

If you are aware of any other issues to your imagination and prescient after cornea transplant, or you experience signs of contamination, consisting of fever, eye drainage, or pain, contact your general practitioner.

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