Corneal Transplantation

Corneal Transplantation


dsekCornea transplantation is the most frequently performed transplant worldwide.  Approximately 40,000 cornea transplants are performed in the United States annually. The cornea is the front surface of the eye and is responsible for 2/3rds of the focusing power of the eye. It is primarily made of layers of collagen in ordered rows that allow light to pass through. Injury, infections and disease can cause the cornea to lose its transparency and result in a loss of vision.

Corneal transplants have traditionally involved surgically removing the central diseased portion of a patient’s cornea and replacing it with a full-thickness donor cornea obtained from a recently deceased individual whose corneas have been stored in an eye bank. This is performed as outpatient surgery and takes anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour or more depending upon what else needs to be done such as cataract removal, intraocular lens implantation, or repair of the iris. Recovery of best vision usually takes 4 to 6 months. The patient has a life-long risk of graft rejection.

The main disadvantages to this surgery are the introduction of astigmatism and the unpredictability of the eye’s refractive error afterwards. This is because the curvature of the donor cornea is unknown prior to surgery and the corneal curvature greatly affects the eye’s refractive error.