If your cornea is severely damaged or diseased, you might require a corneal transplant to improve your vision.
One type of corneal transplant, called a penetrating keratoplasty (PKP) , replaces your central corneal tissue with donor tissue. The procedure usually takes about an hour under regional or general anesthesia, and you can go home the same day following surgery. After corneal transplant surgery, you will wear a plastic shield or eyeglasses to protect your eye, and you will use eyedrops to prevent infection and rejection of the donor tissue. Your eye doctor will monitor your progress closely after your surgery to ensure the best possible visual outcome and to control minor discomfort associated with the surgery and healing process. Vision usually returns gradually over the next few months or up to a year. It is important to inform your eye doctor if you have pain, irritation, or redness of the eye following PKP, as this could be the earliest sign of infection or rejection, and early treatment of these conditions is critical to the viability of your graft.
Another corneal transplant procedure is called a lamellar keratoplasty . This is an advanced technique that replaces only the superficial layers of your cornea using donor tissue, leaving the lower layers of tissue intact. Although this is a more technically challenging procedure than penetrating keratoplasty, it may reduce the risk that your body will reject the donor tissue and is a good option for some patients.
The newest corneal transplant procedure is called endothelial keratoplasty . This is an advanced technique that replaces the inner layer of your cornea using donor tissue, leaving the upper layers of tissue intact. This treats several conditions such as Fuch’s Dystrophy or other causes of corneal edema (swelling) such as bullous keratopathy. Recovery rates are very good but you must be able to lie flat on your back the first day after surgery in order for the surgery to succeed. Your eye doctor will discuss details of the surgery with you before you have the surgery.