Corneal transplant surgery, also known as corneal transplantation or simply corneal grafting is a surgical procedure in which a diseased or otherwise damaged cornea is replaced with a donated, healthy cornea.
The cornea is the clear tissue that covers the front of the eye and as such, it must remain clear for patients to see properly. The cornea is a sensitive part of the eye, and it can get damaged due to a wide range of reasons, including:
● Corneal scarring from infections or blunt trauma
● Keratoconus – a condition in which the cornea becomes very thin and changes its shape
● Dystrophies – Fuchs’ dystrophy, Lattice dystrophy and many others
There are two types of corneal transplantation or corneal transplant surgery:
● Penetrating keratoplasty – During this procedure, the entire cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea – it is also known as a full corneal transplant
● Lamellar keratoplasty – During this procedure, only part of the cornea is replaced – it is also known as a partial corneal transplant
The graft is usually harvested from a recently dead individual with a healthy cornea. It’s worthy to note that although it is a generally successful procedure which provides long-lasting results, corneal transplant surgery is only performed when other types of treatment are ineffective.
Corneal transplant surgery or corneal transplantation has many indications, including:
● Optical – the procedure can improve the patient’s eyesight by removing and replacing any tissue affected by diseases such as keratitis, dystrophy, corneal degeneration, keratoglobus.
● Reconstructive – the procedure is performed to preserve the corneal integrity in patients suffering from descemetoceles or stromal thinning. It can also be used to reconstruct the eye after corneal perforation due to blunt trauma.
● Therapeutic indications – corneal transplant surgery may be performed in order to remove inflamed corneal tissue which cannot be healed through the use of antibiotics.
● Cosmetic indications – corneal transplantation can improve the aesthetics of patients with corneal scars which often leads to a whitening of the eyes.
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