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Home » Eye Health » Vision Surgery » Corneal Transplant

Corneal Transplant

The cornea refers to the clear, front surface of your eye. When a corneal transplant is done, officially termed keratoplasty (KP), the central part of the cornea is surgically removed and replaced with a “button” of clear and healthy corneal tissue donated from an eye bank.

According to the National Eye Institute, approximately 40,000 corneal transplants are performed annually in the United States. The overall success rate for keratoplasty is relatively high, yet up to 20% of patients may reject their donor corneas. Aggressive medical treatment with steroids is generally given in response to signs of rejection, and it is often effective at subduing the negative reaction and saving the cornea. At five to ten years after KP surgery, studies report an encouraging success rate of 95% to 99%.

Why are corneal transplants done?

Corneal transplants are typically done when the cornea becomes damaged or scarred in a way that uncorrectable vision problems occur. These types of vision conditions are not resolved by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive laser surgery (such as LASIK). Disease or injury is the usual culprit for the vision loss.

Keratoconus is a common reason for needing a corneal transplant. In this degenerative condition, the cornea thins and bulges forward in an irregular cone shape. Rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses can treat mild cases by flattening the cornea, yet contacts are not effective when it comes to advanced stages of keratoconus. The National Keratoconus Foundation reports that 20% to 25% of people with keratoconus will require corneal transplant surgery to restore vision. Other corneal degenerative conditions will also result in a need for keratoplasty.

Corneal ectasia is a thinning and bulging of the cornea that sometimes occurs after LASIK or other refractive vision correction procedures. In the event that this happens, a corneal transplant may be needed to restore vision.

Corneal scarring, due to chemical burns, infections and other causes, is an additional reason that a corneal transplant may be indicated. Traumatic injuries to the eye are also commonly responsible.

Corneal Transplant Procedure

Keratoplasty is generally done on an outpatient basis, with no need for overnight hospitalization. Depending upon age, health condition and patient preference, local or general anesthesia is used.

Using a laser or a trephine, this is an instrument similar to a cookie cutter, the surgeon cuts and removes a round section of damaged corneal tissue and then replaces it with the clear donor tissue.

Extremely fine sutures are used to attach the donor button to the remaining cornea. The sutures remain in place for months (sometimes years) until the eye has recuperated, healed fully and is stable.

Recovery from a Corneal Transplant

The total healing time from keratoplasty may last up to a year or longer. At first, vision will be blurred and the site of the corneal transplant may be inflamed. In comparison to the rest of the cornea, the transplanted portion may be slightly thicker. For a few months, eye drops are applied to promote healing and encourage the body to accept the new corneal graft.

A shield or eyeglasses must be worn constantly after surgery in order to protect the healing eye from any bumps. As vision improves, patients may gradually return to normal daily activities.

What happens to vision post-keratoplasty?

Some patients report noticeable improvement as soon as the day after surgery. Yet a great deal of astigmatism is common after a corneal transplant. A patient’s prescription for vision correction tends to fluctuate for a few months after the surgery, and significant vision changes may continue for up to a year.

Hard, gas permeable contact lenses generally provide the sharpest vision after a corneal transplant. This is due to a residual irregularity of the corneal surface. Even with rigid contact lenses, eyeglasses with polycarbonate lenses must be worn in order to provide adequate protection for the eye.

Once the sutures are removed and healing is complete, a laser procedure such as LASIK may be possible and advised. Refractive laser surgery can reduce astigmatism and upgrade quality of vision, sometimes to the point that no eyeglasses or contact lenses are needed.

IMPORTANT UPDATE #5: PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE

Valley Eye Associates is happy to announce that as of now, our office is open!

We will be operating on different office hours while keeping safety in mind.We are currently available Monday – Friday between the hours of 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

Below are the safety protocols that have been put in place for all visiting patients:

  1. All equipment is cleaned with 70% isopropyl alcohol before and after each use. Examination chairs are disinfected using a virucidal spray before and after each patient. All high touch surfaces are constantly disinfected with virucidal solution.
  2. A protective plastic shield has been installed at the front check in area.
  3. Upon arrival each patient will need their temperature checked with a non-contact thermometer and blood oxygen level taken with a pulse oximeter.
  4. Each morning staff will also undergo temperature and blood oxygen screenings.
  5. We will use our online check-in form as well as requiring any insurance cards or documents to be sent to us via text/email.
  6. All payments can be made with credit card by phone.
  7. All visitors will be required to wear a face covering or mask at all times. You will not be allowed to enter without wearing one.
  8. All pick-ups, adjustments, and other visits will require an appointment time. This is needed so that we know when to expect you and can distance you from anyone else.
  9. We will schedule gaps in between each patient to avoid any overlap between patients. Please come at your scheduled time. If you arrive too early you may have to wait in your car. If you arrive too late for us to perform the necessary tests for your exam you may have to be rescheduled.
  10. A maximum of 2 people will be allowed into the office.
  11. Frames that are tried on must be put into a separate box. Frames are disinfected by saturating in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution for a minimum of 10 minutes, dried, and then stored for 3 days before being put on display.

Our staff will be reaching out to patients whose appointments were canceled to help them reschedule.Feel free to call us at 201-664-0847 during our business hours or visit our website at www.2020nj.com to reschedule your appointment.

Thank you.