Recommended For Corneal Transplant
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.
Not Recommended For Corneal Transplant
Corneal transplant surgery or corneal transplantation is not recommended for patients which can get the same results through other types of less invasive treatment.
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.
Patients need to have a thorough eye examination with an ophthalmologist before the corneal transplant surgery. The patient should also have a physical examination, blood tests, EKG and X-rays done before the corneal transplantation procedure.
How It Is Performed
Corneal transplant surgery is usually done under general anesthesia but local anesthesia with IV sedation may also be used.
Penetrating keratoplasty surgery – full corneal transplant
Once the anesthesia kicks in, the surgeon uses a circular cutting device to remove the cornea from the donor. Another circular cutting device is used to remove the patient’s cornea as well. Once that is done, the cornea is sewn in place with very small sutures. Antibiotic eye drops are then used in order to reduce the risk of infection.
Lamellar keratoplasty surgery – partial corneal transplant
Several techniques can be used while performing lamellar keratoplasty surgery. The only difference is that diseased layers of the cornea are replaced and healthy layers are left in place.
Once the corneal transplantation procedure is over, the patient will spend some time in hospital in order to recover.
Antibiotics in the form of eye drops are used for a few weeks after the corneal transplant procedure. Corticosteroids are also used for a few months after the corneal transplantation procedure is done. Patients will be required to wear sunglasses, glasses or eye shields in order to protect the eye from any trauma.
Corneal transplantation procedure risks and complications include:
● Cataract formation
● Retinal detachment
● Other vision problems
Corneal transplant surgery side effects include:
● Inflammation in the eyes region
● Itchiness in the eyes region
● Pain and discomfort
● Dry eyes
Corneal transplantation reviews set the average success rate between 70 and 89%, depending on the problems the patient is facing.
Before And After
It takes around 18 months for the patient to achieve full visual potential after the corneal transplant surgery. Some patients may also wear rigid contact lenses after the corneal transplantation procedure. The patient’s sight will slowly improve over the course of 12 to 18 months.
- What is the chance of developing rejection symptoms after a corneal transplant?
It usually happens in less than 20% of cases.
- Are there any alternatives to corneal transplant surgery?
Yes, a few – including contact lenses.
- Are there any alternatives to using a cornea from a deceased individual?
Yes, artificial corneas are also available.