With certain eye conditions and eye diseases, a corneal transplant is sometimes the best or only treatment option for vision recovery. These are often serious conditions, such as keratoconus, that may or may not be genetic in etiology. These corneal conditions may have gradually developing symptoms that can be treated without transplantation, but treatment is always evaluated on a case by case basis.
Corneal transplantation is a procedure that has evolved much over the years. Approximately 90% of patients who receive corneal transplants will undergo positive changes in their vision after the procedure.
About Corneal Transplants
Corneal transplantation is sometimes necessary for people who have scarred corneas (as due to injury or infection), corneal clouding (Fuch’s dystrophy), or corneal thinning from keratoconus. People who would be permanently blinded by inherited cornea disease, corneal infection, or corneal injury may now have their vision restored through corneal transplantation. With about 40,000 corneal transplants performed each year, this surgery has become quite common in the United States. With the help of technological advances, the chances of success have increased dramatically.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cornea Transplant
Q: How do I know if I need a cornea transplant?
Corneal transplant may be needed if:
- Scarring arises after injury
- Corneal disease or failure symptoms occur
- Scarring after infections, especially after herpes, occurs
- Rejection occurs after first corneal transplant
- Vision cannot be corrected satisfactorily using other medical approaches
There are various other possible reasons to have a corneal transplant. An experienced ophthalmologist should be consulted if you have severe vision loss to firstly determine the cause, and secondly, to determine the appropriate treatment. It is necessary to have a medical eye exam, which will include checking your eyeglass prescription. During this exam, your doctor can determine if vision loss is due to cataracts or if there is another cause. Tests that measure glare, night vision, sensitivity, color vision, and central and peripheral vision may be performed. If you are in the early stages of cataract development, you may be able to improve your vision by just changing your glasses.
Q: Will my eye color change if the donor has a different eye color?
A No. The cornea is clear tissue at the front of the eye. The iris gives eyes their color and is located inside the eye, untouched during a corneal transplant.
Q: Is a corneal transplant painful?
A Corneal transplant is virtually painless. Anesthesia is used locally or generally, depending on age, condition, and disease(s) being treated. You will not see anything during the surgery, and you will not have to worry about blinking or keeping your eye open or closed.