Keratoplasty and Corneal Transplants
Keratoplasty is the transplant of a donor cornea to replace either a part of or the entire cornea. Keratoplasty is performed to treat a variety of conditions including:
• Keratoconus – where your cornea bulges outward
• Swelling or scarring of the cornea – caused by injury to the eye or infection
• Thinning of the cornea
• Corneal ulcers
• Complications caused by previous eye surgery
After the procedure, you should experience relief from pain or discomfort that is associated with these conditions. As with any transplant, there are risks such as rejection of the donor cornea. However, most Keratoplasty procedures are successful, particularly in the hands of a fellowship trained and highly skilled surgeon like Dr. Falknor.
The following steps must be taken prior to the procedure:
- Eye Exam – Dr. Falknor will perform a thorough eye examination to look for any existing conditions that might cause complications after the procedure. If you have any other unrelated eye problems, these will be treated prior to surgery.
- Eye Measurements – Everyone’s cornea is a different size. We will need a proper measurement of your eye so Dr. Falknor can determine what size cornea will be needed for the replacement.
During the Procedure
Keratoplasty is virtually painless and your eye will be numbed during the procedure. Dr. Falknor will cut through the cornea and remove the tissue (about the size of a button). Then the donor cornea (already sized to fit) is stitched into place. In a partial cornea replacement, Dr. Falknor will remove only those layers that need removing. For the inside layers, a very small incision will be made to allow for the removal and replacement without disturbing the outside of your eye. For the outside layers, they will simply be removed and replaced.
After the Procedure
You will receive a prescription for eye drops and medication to prevent infection. You will be required to wear a protective eye covering to prevent injury or trauma to the eye. Follow-up exams are necessary after Keratoplasty and the frequency of these exams will depend upon your specific procedure and healing process.
Though the risk of transplant rejection is low, it can occur at any time for the rest of your life. If you think you might be experiencing signs of transplant rejection (pain, decreased vision, sensitivity to light or redness in the eye), call for an emergency appointment. Early, intense treatment can terminate rejection, save the graft and prevent the need for another operation.