Corneal Transplant Surgery
The cornea is the transparent "window" of the eye through which most of our vision is achieved. It is the cornea's ability to refract or bend and focus light rays onto the retina that allows us to see clearly. When the cornea has become damaged or obscured as a result of disease, scarring, swelling, infection or trauma, a corneal transplant, or keratoplasty, is often performed to restore functional vision. We also offer a new approach to keratoplasty - DSEK - which offers a quicker recovery for those with more limited corneal damage.
At the Westfield Eye Center, we specialize in this highly successful transplant procedure, in which damaged corneal tissue is replaced with healthy corneal tissue donated from a local eye bank. Approximately 85% of corneal transplants produce a successful result, leaving patients able to see more clearly through an intact cornea.
If you would like to learn more about corneal transplant surgery, click here to request a consultation online with an experienced eye doctor in Las Vegas at the Westfield Eye Center.
Your Corneal Transplant Procedure
Once you've been decided to undergo corneal transplant surgery, you will be placed on a waiting list for donor tissue. Since we have an excellent donor bank system, the wait is not usually more than a few weeks. Prior to distribution, the donor tissue is carefully screened for clarity, damage, contamination or disease, so your safety is assured.
Your eye will be anesthetized and stabilized prior to surgery. The doctor will remove a button of corneal tissue from your eye and replace it with an identical button of donor tissue which will be sutured into place. Your ophthalmologist will then place a plastic shield over your eye to protect it as it heals. The entire procedure typically takes about an hour per eye.
Recovery and Results
Although it is a short, outpatient procedure, traditional corneal transplant surgery does not have a speedy recovery period. Initially, your vision will be blurry and the cornea is typically swollen or thickened. Most patients may return to work within 3 to 7 days of surgery, but activity must be kept light. The eyes must be protected from injury for several weeks or months following surgery.
Sutures remain in the cornea for a period of one to one and a half years, depending on how the eye is healing. Your doctor may make adjustments in the sutures to minimize the amount of astigmatism that develops due to irregularities in the corneal surface. Vision will fluctuate over the first few months following surgery, so most eye doctors recommend waiting at least that long before having corrective lenses prescribed. Full vision correction may not be achieved for up to a year following surgery. At that point, you may choose to undergo laser eye surgery for optimal vision correction.
Although most corneal transplants are successful, approximately 15% of corneal grafts will be rejected. If detected early, rejection may be reversible with medication; however in some cases, you may need to return to your eye doctor at the Westfield Eye Center to have the procedure performed again.
Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)
In this procedure, only the very inner layer of cornea is removed from the patient's eye and replaced with the same tissue from a donor cornea. This surgical procedure is indicated for eyes with healthy cornea except the inner layer (endothelium) that is either not functioning because of Fuchs Dystrophy or due to damage from previous cataract surgery. By replacing only the inner layer of the cornea through a smaller incision, instead of replacing the entire cornea with a button-hole incision, the treated eye heals much more quickly, with faster visual recovery.
If you would like to find out if corneal transplant surgery or DSEK is an option for you, click here to request a consultation online with a qualified ophthalmologist in Las Vegas at the Westfield Eye Center. Or, you may call our office at 702-362-EYES (3937) to schedule an appointment.