Corneal Transplant

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Corneal disease can cause loss of vision and significant vision impairment, and corneal transplantation can be an effective treatment for those affected by it.

Corneal disease can cause loss of vision and significant vision impairment, and corneal transplantation can be an effective treatment for those affected by it. Dr. Ksenia Stafeeva, the New Eyes corneal specialist, can perform corneal transplantation as an outpatient procedure. We can help to improve the effects of corneal disease and successfully reduce vision loss.

What Causes Corneal Disease?

A number of factors may contribute to the development of corneal disease, which can ultimately necessitate a corneal transplant. These factors include:

What Is the Corneal Transplant Procedure Like?

There are four types of corneal transplants available at New Eyes—Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK), Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK), Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK), and Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). Below, you can find detailed information about each approach.   

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)

Penetrating Keratoplasty is the replacement of the cornea with a graft derived from a human donor. Corneal transplantation requires skill and dexterity that is far beyond what is required in other types of eye surgery. Dr. Ksenia Stafeeva is a fellowship-trained surgeon who is an expert in performing these complex procedures. A corneal transplant may become necessary as the last option, should vision improvement not be achieved with corrective eyewear or other treatment options. Dr. Stafeeva will do her best to avoid the need for corneal transplantation using less invasive procedures such as DSEK.

Corneal Transplant: Overview

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)

DSEK, also known as a partial-thickness corneal transplant, is an alternative to the corneal graft transplant (PK). This procedure involves replacing only the thin endothelial layer of the cornea with donor endothelial tissue. The wound after this procedure heals faster than after full corneal transplant, and vision returns much sooner. There is also less risk of tissue rejection because the majority of the cornea remains in place.

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK)

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) is a particularly useful technique in cases such as when a patient has a less advanced form of keratoconus or a mild corneal scar. Like DSEK, DALK is a partial-thickness corneal transplant—however, DALK only replaces the outer layers of the cornea (epithelium). Compared to a full corneal transplant, this method enables patients to regain their vision more rapidly, and has a lower chance of corneal graft rejection.

Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)

Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) is another type of partial-thickness corneal transplant. This technique is extremely similar to DSEK, with the exception of the donor tissue used during implantation—DMEK does not use any stromal tissue when replacing the endothelial layer. For many patients, this technique can provide faster recovery times and better resulting vision. Unfortunately, there is also occasionally a higher risk of complications associated with this type of transplant, so Dr. Stafeeva will be sure to thoroughly discuss the benefits and limitations of each technique with you to ultimately determine the best approach for your individual case.

DSEK: Overview

Am I a Good Candidate for Corneal Transplantation?

Corneal transplantation is typically reserved for patients whose visual impairment needs extend beyond what other treatment methods can provide. Replacing a diseased or traumatized cornea with a healthy one can result in clearer vision and alleviate the irritation caused by corneal damage. Generally, factors such as a corneal infection or serious corneal injury may warrant transplantation. Dr. Stafeeva is a skilled corneal surgeon and will evaluate your specific needs before recommending a method of treatment. Less invasive methods of vision correction will usually be considered before resorting to a cornea transplant, but if it is determined that you would benefit from transplantation, she can use her advanced training to replace your cornea and minimize vision loss.

What Is the Recovery Period Like for Corneal Transplantation?

Though you may not be in a suitable condition to drive, you will likely be able to return home on the same day as your operation. While our surgeon will provide you with more detailed post-operative instructions, generally, your post-surgical care will consist of routine administration of medicinal eye drops to facilitate the healing process. Following the instructions provided by our surgeon is very important. Regular office visits will also be necessary to ensure your healing process is on track. The frequency with which these follow-up visits take place is often tailored to your individual needs, but they typically occur more often immediately following the procedure and taper off as weeks pass.

What Results Should I Expect Following Full Corneal Transplantation Surgery?

After your procedure, the cornea will have been replaced by a new, healthy, donor cornea. This transplantation can result in clearer vision that, for some patients, is as optimal as 20/20. It may take a few months or longer for the maximum acuity of your vision to be realized, but the general outcome of a corneal transplantation is clearer, restored vision uninhibited by corneal swelling or disease. Typically, results last over 10 years, but we recommend regular check-ups with your eye doctor to monitor the health of your eyes and ensure a long-lasting outcome.

What Are the Risks of Corneal Transplantation?

Corneal Transplant Rejection

Outlook for corneal transplantation is generally positive and the surgery is typically very common and successful. However, as with all major surgeries, there are risks involved. Dr. Stafeeva and her team will use their extensive experience to make every effort to minimize risks, but the surgery does come with a possibility of the graft being rejected by the patient’s natural immune system. Fortunately, with prompt discovery that the graft is being rejected – usually detectable by symptoms such as vision loss, pain, or red eyes – the rejection can be reversed by Dr. Stafeeva. If you experience any post-surgical side effects that are causing you concern, it is recommended that you contact us for evaluation.

Corneal Transplant Complications

In addition to the possibility of transplant rejection, other potential complications can include bleeding, swelling, and infection. Corneal transplant patients may also be at an increased risk for developing glaucoma. However, these risks can be significantly reduced when corneal transplant surgery is performed by a skilled and experienced ophthalmologist. Our team is well-equipped to effectively treat any possible complications, in the rare event they should arise.

How Much Does a Corneal Transplant Cost?

The overall cost for a corneal transplant at New Eyes is ultimately determined by a variety of factors including the severity of your individual case, as well as the surgical approach needed for a successful outcome. Based on your customized treatment plan, our team can provide you with a more accurate cost estimate. Additionally, we offer financing options that can enable qualified patients to make monthly payments with low or no interest.

Contact Us

For more information on corneal disease and treatment options such as corneal transplantation, please contact New Eyes today.