A corneal transplant (also called Keratoplasty) is a surgery in which a donor cornea replaces either a part of the cornea or the entire cornea.
Corneal transplants are performed to treat a variety of conditions all related to corneal dystrophy. The most common disorder requiring a corneal transplant is keratoconus. Keratoconus is the progressive thinning of the cornea and typically occurs in teenagers and individuals in their 20’s.
In addition to keratoconus, corneal ulcers, complications caused by eye surgery, and swelling or scarring of the cornea caused by injury to the eye or an eye infection can also require the need for a corneal transplant.
Corneal Transplants at Eye Clinic of Austin
At Eye Clinic of Austin, the first step for a corneal transplant is scheduling an appointment for a thorough eye exam. During the eye exam, our ophthalmologist, Dr. Thomas Henderson, looks for any existing conditions that might cause complications after the procedure. If any other unrelated eye issues exist, these will be treated prior to surgery. We also take precise measurements of your cornea to determine what size cornea will be needed for the replacement. Once a donor cornea is secured, the surgery for the transplant will be scheduled.
During a corneal transplant, the eye is numbed and virtually no pain is felt. Dr. Henderson will first remove the damaged tissue from the cornea and then the donor cornea is sewn into place using a very fine thread. In a partial cornea replacement, only the affected layers will be removed. All healthy areas of the cornea are left untouched.
After a Corneal Transplant
Recovery after a corneal transplant is typically eight weeks for partial transplants to greater than three to six months for a standard transplant. However, most patients can return to work within one to two weeks. Discomfort typically consisting of a scratchy feeling should be gone within two weeks of the corneal transplant.
After the surgery, patients receive a prescription for eye drops and medication to prevent infection, as well as protective eye coverings to prevent injury or trauma to the eye. The protective eyewear is typically worn for the rest of the day unless otherwise instructed. Use of eye drops and medication is usually complete ten days after surgery. Anti-rejection eye drops may be continued indefinitely.
Follow-up appointments are also scheduled as needed. Frequency of these appointments will depend upon the specific procedure and the healing process.