Cornea Transplantation

Text size:
Last updated 9/29/2019
Cornea Tranplantation

What is a cornea transplant? 

Cornea transplants are performed to restore vision loss due to injuries, infection, diseases or scarring of the cornea. Corena transplant surgery is the most common transplant surgery done t in the United States with over 46 thousand performed each year. mostly for cataracts and glaucoma.

 

A cornea transplant involves removing part or all of the cornea and replacing it with healthy tissue from a deceased human donor. This procedure is called a KERATOPLASTY and, for many people, it improves vision, lessens pain and increases their quality of life. 

Who needs a cornea transplant?

 

There are several reasons why your eye doctor would recommend a cornea transplant, including:

  • To repair the cornea following injury or perforation
  • To relieve chronic pain associated with a condition called bullous keratopathy
  • To treat corneal damage resulting from eye diseases or medical conditions (such as an infection unresponsive to medication or also from conditions causing thin, clouded or abnormally shaped corneas)
  • To increase the cornea’s focusing capacity and thus improve vision in patients with corneal swelling following cataract surgery (a condition known as Pseudophakic Bullous Keratopathy)
  • To address severe Keratoconus, a condition in which the middle of the cornea thins, weakens and eventually bulges outward, causing focusing problems

 

 

Are all cornea transplants the same?

Yes and no.  A cornea transplant replaces a diseased or injured cornea with healthy corneal tissue from a

cadaver donor.


The donated cornea is processed through an eye bank and is even safer than receiving a blood transfusion, which is very safe these days. What´s more, a cornea doesn’t need to be tissue matched, like a heart or a kidney does. This is because the cornea has no blood vessels which greatly decreases its risk of tissue rejection.


There are several surgical approaches to cornea transplants (known as corneal keratoplasty). These can range from transplantation of just the inner corneal lining to transplantation of all layers of the cornea (called a full thickness transplant).

 

The appropriate procedure for you is determined following a comprehensive evaluation that includes specialized imaging of your cornea and a lengthy conversation about your eye health with your opthalmologist.

 

At AEI we perform three types of cornea transplants to address a wide variety of conditions. Here's a brief explanation of each approach:

 

Intralase Enabled Keratoplasty (IEK)

IEK is a full thickness transplant approach that utilizes a laser to prepare both the donor and the recipient eyes for the transplant. It does so by ensuring that the shape of the graft tissue taken from the donor exactly matches (like a puzzle) the graft deposit site in the recipient´s cornea.

 

Advantages of the IEK blade free approach over conventional surgery include:

    1. The interlocking graft design results in a transplant site that is stronger than the one achieved by conventional surgery
    2. IEK is associated with improved vision outcomes and reduced risk of postop astigmatism.
    3. IEK requires fewer stitches which also come out sooner
    4. IEK recovery is faster and patients can return to work sooner

 

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK) 

PK is another full thickness transplant procedure in which the surgeon removes and replaces all layers of the diseased cornea with clear, healthy donor tissue. It can take up to one year for your vision to reach its maximum potential following this surgery.

 

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)

DSEK removes and replaces diseased tissue from the deepest of the three corneal layers, called the endothelium, along with its thin protective coating called the Descemet membrane. That’s why it’s known as a partial thickness transplant.

 

The advantages of a DSEK include:

It has a faster healing time than a full thickness transplant because less than one tenth of the cornea’s thickness is replaced. Vision is recovered in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months required for a full thickness cornea transplant. The post-op eye is stronger because less tissue is replaced and so it is structurally sturdier than if it had undergone a full thickness transplant. The likelihood of rejection is lower than with IEK or PK.

Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)

The DMEK procedure removes and replaces diseased tissue from the deepest of the three corneal layers, called the endothelium, along with its thin protective coating called the Descemet membrane. That’s why it’s known as a partial thickness transplant.

 

Other advantages of a DMEK include:

    1. Faster healing time than a full thickness transplant because less than one tenth of the cornea’s thickness is replaced. Vision is recovered in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months required for a full thickness cornea transplant.
    2. Outstanding visual acuity is possible because only a minute amount of corneal tissue is replaced (the graft is about ten microns thick).
    3. The post-op eye is stronger because less tissue is replaced and so it is structurally sturdier than if it had undergone a full thickness transplant.
    4. The likelihood of rejection is lower than with IEK or PK. In fact, patients usually don’t need to continue using steroid eye drops to prevent rejection after one year post-op.

 

Will a cornea transplant give me 20/20 vision?

The primary goal of a cornea transplant is to provide patients with a healthy functioning cornea. Your post-op vision depends on many variables and it may be a bit worse for several months as your eye adjusts to the new cornea. This is really one of those "miracles of modern medicine".

 

Most people needing a cornea transplant require some assistance for vision correction with either glasses or contact lenses. Once the outer layer of your cornea has healed (from weeks to months after surgery) your eye doctor will see if there are any adjustments that can be made to further improve your vision.

 

1178 Total 1st Party Reviews
4.9 out of 5 Stars
  • GatherUp
    ALL good!!!
    David M.
  • GatherUp
    I honestly loved the feeling of being the only patient you had during my surgery! I know there were other patients of course, b...
    Jodianne F.
  • GatherUp
    Thanks.
    Carolann M.
  • GatherUp
    Dr Assil and staff offer excellent eye care in a professional environment. Thank you for helping improve my vision throughout t...
    Julianne C.
  • GatherUp
    All good
    Lawrence H.
  • GatherUp
    Thank you!
    Ilene D.
  • GatherUp
    everything was great, couldnt have asked for a better experience, thank you.
    Raffi J.
  • GatherUp
    I do not like these surveys. If I would not like Assil Eye Institute I would not go there.
    Jutta H.
  • GatherUp
    Hello,

    I had another great experience. Thanks for everything.
    Sharon T.
  • GatherUp
    Great, as always.
    Wayne F.
Look Who Trusts Their Eyes to Assil Eye Institute...
  • LeBron James
    Los Angeles Lakers

    LeBron James is one of the NBA's greatest of all time. He absolutely depends on his vision to perform at the very highest level.

     

    LeBron trusts his eyes to Assil Eye Institute.

  • Anthony Davis
    Los Angeles Lakers
  • Chris Paul
    Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Dwyane Wade
    Miami Heat (retired)
  • Marlee Matlin
    Actress
  • Michelle Williams
    Actress
  • LaToya Jackson
    Entertainer
  • Lorenzo Lamas
    Actor
  • Philip Bailey
    Earth Wind and Fire
  • Gary Sinise
    Actor
  • Rip Hamilton
    Former NBA player
  • John Salley
    Commentator, former NBA player
  • Blair Underwood
    Actor
  • Tom Arnold
    Comedian/Actor
  • Troy Evans
    Actor
  • John Noble
    Actor
  • Isaac Eddy
    Actor/Director/Teacher
  • Barbara Rush
    Actress
  • John Emerson
    US Ambassador to Germany
  • Shane Mosley
    Former professional boxer
  • Cuttino Mobley
    Former NBA player
  • Seth Gordon
    Director
  • Maurice Evans
    Former NBA player
  • Wang Luoyong
    Actor
  • Jesse Metcalfe
    Actor
  • Ananda Lewis
    Television Personality
  • Rob Brydon
    Comedian
  • Clifton Collins Jr.
    Actor
  • Malinda Williams
    Actress
  • Adrienne Frantz
    Actress
  • Lacey Chabert
    Actress
  • Brad Pitt
    Actor
  • LeBron James
    Los Angeles Lakers
  • Anthony Davis
    Los Angeles Lakers
  • Chris Paul
    Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Courtney Cox
    Actress
  • Paul George
    Los Angeles Clippers
  • Dwyane Wade
    Miami Heat (retired)
  • Marlee Matlin
    Actress
  • Michelle Williams
    Actress
  • Jalen Brunson
    Dallas Mavericks
  • Mychal Thompson
    Commentator, former NBA player
  • LaToya Jackson
    Entertainer
  • Lorenzo Lamas
    Actor
  • Philip Bailey
    Earth Wind and Fire
  • Gary Sinise
    Actor
  • Rip Hamilton
    Former NBA player
  • John Salley
    Commentator, former NBA player
  • Blair Underwood
    Actor
  • Tom Arnold
    Comedian/Actor
  • Troy Evans
    Actor
  • John Noble
    Actor
  • Isaac Eddy
    Actor/Director/Teacher
  • Barbara Rush
    Actress
  • Rudy Garciduenas
    Blue Man Group
  • John Emerson
    US Ambassador to Germany
  • Shane Mosley
    Former professional boxer
  • Cuttino Mobley
    Former NBA player
  • Seth Gordon
    Director
  • Maurice Evans
    Former NBA player
  • Cheri Blauwet
    Physician and Wheelchair Racer
  • Wang Luoyong
    Actor
  • Jesse Metcalfe
    Actor
  • Jeana Wilson
    Actress
  • Courtnee Draper
    Actress
  • Ananda Lewis
    Television Personality
  • Robyn Johnson
    Producer
  • Rob Brydon
    Comedian
  • Cary Schuman
    Actor
  • Roland Buddy Lewis Jr.
    Comedian
  • Clifton Collins Jr.
    Actor
  • Malinda Williams
    Actress
  • Chad Jeffers
    Musician
  • Adrienne Frantz
    Actress
  • Franco Carlotto
    Body Builder
  • Brad Mates
    Musician
  • David Pichette
    Musician
  • Mike Melacon
    Professional Baseball Player
  • Nautica de la Cruz
    Radio Personality
  • Lynn Conkwright
    Body Builder
  • Nely Galan
    Producer
  • Roxanne Galla
    Actress
  • Lacey Chabert
    Actress