With certain eye conditions and eye diseases, a Corneal Transplant is sometimes the best or only treatment option for vision recovery.
What is a Corneal Transplant?
- A Corneal Transplant 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.
- With 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How do I know if I need a Cornea Transplant?
- 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.
Will My Eye Color Change If the Donor Has a Different Eye Color?
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.
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.
Treatment Options for Cornea Transplants
Descemet Membrane Endothelial Kertoplasty (DMEK) & Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) is an alternative to a traditional transplant. In this procedure, only the inner layers of the cornea are replaced with donor tissue. The procedure requires no stitches. Recovery time is faster and there are fewer complications, such as rejection.
Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)
PK or Penetrating Keratoplasty is a full thickness cornea transplant procedure performed when both the the front and back layers of cornea are abnormal. The full thickness disc of the injured or diseased cornea is replaced with a new disc of human donor cornea is put in place.
The PK procedure is an outpatient procedure which generally allows patients to return home a short while after the procedure.
Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK)
Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) is a partial-thickness cornea transplant procedure for removing the corneal stroma, leaving the Descemet’s membrane and endothelium in place.. This procedure is used for the treatment of corneal disease involving the corneal stroma as long as there is a presence of healthy endothelium.
Why don’t all surgeons peform DALK?
There are many reasons surgeons may not perform DALK. The two main reasons revolved around the disadvantages of this procedure. It is very technically challenging and there is a potential for reduced visual clarity. Dr. Paul Cutarelli is a cornea specialist that has performed over 70,000 eye surgery procedures, his experience and training provides him the necessary skills to perform DALK with a track record of exceptional results.
If you are a candidate for cornea transplants, contact our Denver or Fort Collins office to schedule an appointment. You have options when it comes to cornea transplant surgery, let Dr. Cutarelli advise the best possibly outcome based on your cornea health.