Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

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Intro To Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Intro To Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant).

We have good news for people who have damaged cornea and want to have better vision! Cornea transplant has become easier and quicker and is the most common and most successful transplant procedure. Keratoplasty, also called cornea transplant or cornea grafting, is a surgical intervention to remove part or entirety of the cornea and replace it with new, healthy donor tissue. The cornea is the front part of the eye that facilitates the passage of light. Interestingly, ophthalmologists have been performing this procedure for 100 years. Therefore, it’s certainly not a new innovation by any means! Types of keratoplasty include penetrating keratoplasty (PK), deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK), and endothelial keratoplasty (EK). Your doctor will choose the right type for your case depending on which part of the cornea is damaged.

Intro To Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)
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Benefits of Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Benefits of Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Keratoplasty may be able to restore or improve your vision after developing a disease that damages your cornea. In short, below are the benefits of this surgery:

  • Restore your vision and your ability to see bright lights clearly
  • Reduce eye pain resulting from corneal damage or disease
  • Improve the appearance of a damaged cornea
  • Treat different eye conditions, such as keratoconus and corneal ulcers
  • Receive a very successful transplant procedure
 Candidates for Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Candidates for Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

First, you need to contact an experienced ophthalmologist to discuss with them everything related to the surgery. They may prepare for the surgery by doing the following:

  • Obtain the donated cornea from deceased individuals whose families gave permission.
  • Perform a physical exam and take exact measurements of your eye.
  • Instruct you to stop using certain medications, including blood thinners.
  • Instruct you to stop eating and drinking after midnight on the night before surgery.
  • Tell you to keep your face free of makeup, creams, lotions, and jewelry.
  • Arrange for someone to escort you after the procedure.

Steps of Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Despite being a delicate procedure, ophthalmologists can perform keratoplasty in outpatient facilities, and only need less than 2 hours to complete it under local anesthesia. Here is a brief overview of its steps:

1. Cut the Recipient’s Cornea

Your doctor is going to operate on your eye using a microscope and will start the surgery by removing or cutting a circular piece from your damaged cornea using a cookie cutter-like knife called a trephine.

2. Cut the Donor Cornea

Next, your doctor will use another similar knife to cut and remove a piece from the donor cornea.

3. Place the Donor Cornea

Finally, your doctor replaces the recipient’s cornea with the donor cornea and uses fine sutures to sew it into place.

 Candidates for Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Recovery After Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

You may experience irritation, light sensitivity, and redness in the first few days following the surgery. The recovery phase may also entail the following:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers and eye drops as your doctor prescribes.
  • You will have an eye patch on your eye after the surgery. Wear it when showering and sleeping.
  • You need to avoid certain activities to prevent unwanted damage.
  • Your surgeon will check on your condition within 24 to 48 hours of your surgery.
  • Some transplant procedures require you to lie flat on your back during the day and night.
  • Your doctor will take out stitches at the office a few months later.
  • Full recovery of vision and eyesight may take several months or a year because the cornea heals slowly.
 Candidates for Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Risks of Keratoplasty (Cornea Transplant)

Keratoplasty is a safe procedure but it’s still carrying some risks and potential side effects. For instance, organ rejection can occur in about 1 out of 10 patients. This happens when your body’s immune system attacks the donated cornea. Other side effects include:

  • Corneal bleeding, infection, or swelling
  • Glaucoma or cataracts
  • Fluid leakage from your cornea
  • Visual acuity problems
  • Detachment of the corneal transplant
  • Detached retina

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