How Complicated Is Corneal Transplant Surgery?
What Is A Corneal Transplant?
When the cornea—the clear, dome-shaped front of the eye—becomes damaged or diseased it can cause distortion or loss of vision. Corneal diseases often come with pain and discomfort.
When these conditions become severe, the vision loss can often be stopped or completely reversed with corneal transplant surgery.
A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure to replace a patient’s cornea with the tissue from a donor. Corneal transplant surgery has a high success rate of around 90%. It has the highest success rate of any organ transplant procedure.
Swelling, fluid buildup, or injury to the eye, as well as natural deformities in the eye, may result in the need for this treatment.
Conditions that may lead to a corneal transplant include:
- Corneal dystrophy
- Corneal edema
- Corneal abrasion
There are varying types of corneal transplant methods. The most common method is penetrating keratoplasty, or PK. Your eye surgeon can help you decide which method is right for you.
During the procedure, the patient will be given anesthesia. The eye surgeon will remove a button-sized portion of the diseased or damaged cornea. Then, the donor’s tissue will be inserted.
Cornea transplants take up to two hours to perform. They are typically done on an outpatient basis. There is rarely a need for the patient to stay overnight at the hospital as the procedure is fairly uncomplicated.
What Complications Come Along With A Corneal Transplant?
Complications of corneal transplant range from minor irritation to more severe conditions including graft versus host disease, in which the recipient’s body rejects the donor’s cornea.
Rejection of the cornea is more likely to occur in those who have had corrective surgeries in the past or those with underlying medical conditions including glaucoma or diabetes.
Infection and an increased risk for cataracts are other possible complications of corneal transplants. Your eye surgeon can discuss the risks and benefits involved in your unique diagnosis.
What Can I Expect During Recovery?
Recovery following corneal transplant surgery will typically take a few weeks. During this time, patients can expect their vision to clear slowly. It may seem worse before it gets better. Full recovery may take a few months to a year.
Throughout this time, patients are often prescribed steroid eye drops to aid with discomfort. Eyeglasses or shields are recommended to protect the eye until it is fully healed.
Corneal transplantation is an excellent option for many patients. To ensure the best corneal transplant surgery experience, you should consult with a trained ophthalmologist. They can work with you on the best method of alleviating poor vision and uncomfortable eye pain.