When are Cornea Transplants Needed?

The cornea is the most important structure of eye and plays a significant role in coordination and performance of vision by eye. It is the outer clear layer, through which light is refracted into the eye, making it the first zone of light entrance and focusing. Cornea Transplant as the name indicates is a surgical procedure in which a new grafted cornea is placed from a donor’s eye.

Reasons for corneal transplant:

Cornea transplant is not a mild surgical intervention and is only recommended when there is no other recovery chance. There are some diseases that require a corneal transplant and in some cases accidental damage of eye that needs corneal grafting.

  1. Keratoconus:

A condition in which cornea cannot maintain its typical round structure, thinning, scarring, hole or apical scarring are major causes of Keratoconus. The disease is characterized by blurry and hazy vision, stress on eyes and irritation. The appearance of disorder may be from childhood. However, mild conditions can be helped with the use of glasses and contacts but still extreme cases demand corneal grafting.

  1. Hereditary diseases like Fuchs’ dystrophy.
  2. Eye infections and inflammations due to fungi or herpes etc.
  3. Accidental damage to eye cornea.
  4. Rare but possible complications form LASIK surgery (laser based retinal reshaping surgery).

Are you a candidate for cornea transplant?

A cornea transplant candidate must have a serious disorder or condition as mentioned above. The condition of the patient can no longer be helped with glasses or contacts. The condition of patient is severe and daily basis activities are seriously affected. The patient promises to comply with terms and conditions for procedure including at least 6 months of rest after surgery. All these considerations are put forth while choosing the corneal transplant candidate.

Cornea Transplant as a surgical procedure:

The procedure may be carried out while the patient is awake and locally administrating the anesthesia, although overall sedative effect prevails. In other cases the patient is given full anesthesia and surgery is performed.

The implantation of corneal graft from donor’s eye to fix cornea or completely replace it can be done in two ways:

Full thickness corneal transplant: all the layers of cornea are transplanted.

Lamellar cornea transplant: some layers are grafted.

How promising is this procedure?

  • The first complication that can arise after the transplant is the graft rejection. The patient’s immune system rejects the foreign transplanted cornea during which inflammation and infection can occur although some immune suppressors can be given to avoid transplant rejection.
  • Research shows that the transplanted cornea can last for 10 years in 60-90% cases of Keratoconus, Fuchs’ dystrophy and scarring.
  • Complete recovery may take from 6 months to a year.
  • There are some risks also associated in rare cases if surgery does not go as planned. These risks may be bleeding, cataracts, vision loss, infection and glaucoma.

Although the whole procedure seems critically serious overall it is promising. If you have a severe eye condition then the approach is wise and should be taken before complete corneal damage.

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