What is a cornea transplant procedure?
A cornea transplant is a procedure that replaces the clear outer covering of the eye in cases where it may be scarred, swollen or damaged. Also known as corneal grafting, this technique is one of the most commonly performed transplants and uses a healthy cornea from a donor. Depending on the severity of the damage, a patient may be required to change the entire cornea, or just part of it. Cornea transplants are performed as an outpatient procedure by board certified cornea specialists to achieve the ideal results.
Why consider cornea transplant?
In most cases, a cornea transplant is indicated to improve a patient’s vision, which may have been impaired due to the distortion of the tissue, damage resulting from trauma, or certain diseases. Patients who are experiencing eye pain due to infection, imflammation, swelling or scarring, or even from the natural degeneration of the cornea, may also gain benefits from this procedure. A successful transplant should improve comfort, visual function, and aesthetically will improve the appearance of patients with corneal scars that give a milky appearance to the eyes. We also perform keratoprosthesis or artificial cornea transplant procedures for patients who are not good candidates for standard cornea transplant such as patients with severe chemical corneal burns or congenital disorders. Dr. Gross is the medical director for the Donor Network of Arizona Eye Bank and is very involved in quality control and reducing risk with donor tissue.
What results should I expect from cornea transplant?
Cornea transplants have a high success rate when performed by a specialist with careful follow up. First, one of our board certified cornea specialists will perform a comprehensive exam to determine if a full or partial thickness transplant is indicated. We will review the risks and benefits and discuss the procedure in detail. We will discuss your unique situation and answer all of your questions so that the surgical experience will be pleasant and successful. Most patients gain visual function, clarity, and comfort with this procedure. We perform a wide variety of advanced transplant procedures specific to your corneal condition.
What about recovery?
Visual recovery from a cornea transplant procedure may take anywhere from a few months to a year depending on other ocular conditions and the type of transplant. Recovery is usually pain free and requires topical medications and may require in office suture removal for the best outcome. Overall, he success rate is very high and patients are able to enjoy better vision for many years. Careful monitoring of the patient’s post-operative care and medication is performed at each visit by your cornea specialist and this has proven to be a very beneficial facet of the recovery process to produce excellent results. Prolonged discomfort or sensitivity of the affected eye may indicate infection, inflammation, or rejection of the donated tissue but prompt attention and treatment often results in clearing of the graft. Repeat surgery is seldom necessary but is an option if the graft fails for any reason.