When is a Corneal Transplant Necessary?
A healthy cornea is important for clear vision. The cornea is located on the outside surface of your eye and is responsible for not only protecting the eye from foreign debris but also for helping focus light that enters the eye. Because the cornea is so “front and center” on the eye, it is also prone to becoming damaged, diseased or scarred due to:
- Inflammation (keratitis)
- Dry eye
- Thinning, causing a cone-shaped cornea (keratoconus)
- Cell deterioration (Fuchs’ dystrophy)
- Protein deposits (lattice dystrophy)
- Ocular herpes
- Pinkish growth (pterygium)
- Inward-facing eyelashes causing scarring (trichiasis)
- And a variety of other conditions
When this damage is severe enough, your vision will become greatly impacted. If glasses or contact lenses cannot restore your vision for daily tasks, your doctor may recommend a corneal transplant. This process works by removing all or part of the cornea and replacing it with healthy donor tissue from an eye bank.
Corneal Transplant Options
- Full thickness corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty or PK) to replace the entire cornea with a donor cornea from an eye bank. While this method is very successful for restoring vision in patients with severe corneal damage, the surgery requires sutures to keep the new cornea in place, resulting in a long recovery time and greater potential for complications.
- Partial thickness corneal transplant (Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty or DSAEK) which replaces the damaged section of the back inner layer of the cornea through a small incision. No sutures are required and most patients achieve a faster visual recovery. Other benefits include:
- Faster surgery time
- Less visual distortion
- Reduced risk of problems like dry eye
- Reduced risk of astigmatism
- Greater integrity of the corneal tissue
If you are considering having a corneal transplant in Colorado Springs, make sure you are fully aware of the risks of surgery such as: rejection of the new tissue, infection and corneal swelling. Trusting your eyes to an experienced ophthalmologist will help reduce some of those risks. Contact our experienced team to learn more about your options.