Cornea Transplants

When the cornea (front portion of the eye) becomes cloudy or damaged due to injury or disease and when conventional methods of treatment do not work, a corneal transplant becomes necessary to restore vision to an acceptable level. There are several different types of corneal transplants available to the surgeon and based on the condition being treated, they will select the best method for you. Corneal transplants are possible due to donations by recently deceased people. Without the donation eyesight, could not be restored. Nearly everyone can be a donor and Ophthalmologist’s around the world urge people to donate. The types of corneal transplants are listed below.

Procedure Details

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP): As the name suggests, penetrating keratoplasty is a full thickness transplant. During the procedure, a small button approximately 8 mm in diameter is removed from the diseased/traumatized cornea and a button of donor tissue is sutured in place. The sutures are often never removed, lasting the lifetime of the patient. This procedure has a long healing period and can be as long as 1 year before best visual acuity is attained. The sutures can also cause a large amount of astigmatism (irregular vision) to occur and must be corrected with contacts and/or glasses. There is also the possibility that the sutures will break during a blow to the eye which will cause the eye to rupture causing blindness.

DSAEK/DMEK: This procedure is performed mainly on a cornea where the innermost layer (endothelium) is not functioning. Until the procedure was perfected, PKP was the only choice for the transplants. This procedure involves removing only the diseased layer of the cornea, leaving the rest intact and replacing it with donor tissue. The healing time is greatly reduced from potentially weeks to months. The need for astigmatism correcting contacts is greatly reduced as there are no sutures needed. Dr. Mark Gorovoy is one of the pioneers in developing these extremely important procedures.

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