When Does A Corneal Transplant Become Necessary?

Couple smiling after Cornea Transplant surgery

The cornea is a vital part of our eyes. It covers the pupil and protects the inside of the eye.

It also acts as a focusing lens for much of the light that passes through it. Light needs to be focused in order for us to see.

If it wasn’t, our vision would be blurry all the time. For some, a corneal transplant may become necessary. Keep reading to learn more!

What Happens When The Cornea Has Problems?

No cornea is the same. Everyone has unique ways of seeing due to minor imperfections that exist in every eye.

While this problem can be solved with glasses or LASIK, some corneal issues require something else. This is new tissue that can heal and function correctly.

This is usually the result of corneal diseases such as eye herpes, keratitis, trichiasis, or keratoconus. It can even occur because of injury that’s due to excessive scarring. It can also develop from genetic disorders like Fuchs dystrophy.

The process of replacing a cornea is called a corneal transplant. A cornea transplant involves receiving a new cornea from a donor.

The donor is a willing deceased person. All corneas are carefully tested to ensure the safety of the patient on the receiving end of the surgery.

How Does a Corneal Transplant Work?

A cornea is not a single mass of tissue but rather is made up of several layers on top of one another. There are two categories of corneal transplants.

They are different based on how much cornea is being transplanted. The thin, topmost layer of the cornea is the epithelium.

The even thinner inner layer is the endothelium. Between is the stroma, which has the most tissue matter. There is then a frontal membrane called Bowman’s layer and a rear membrane called Descemet’s membrane.

What Are The Different Kinds of Corneal Transplants?

A “full-thickness corneal transplant” removes all layers of the cornea. They are then replaced with the entire donor cornea.

This surgery is only for patients that have damaged stromas as this surgery is quite invasive. Recovery from this surgery takes a long time and may take up to a year and a half. There is a significant chance that the transplant may not be accepted by the body.

The next kind of corneal transplant is a partial-thickness corneal transplant. This is a bit more involved but offers several advantages over a full transplant.

Partial-thickness corneal transplants specifically target the endothelial tissue inside the eye. This is very effective for patients with Fuchs dystrophy.

The surgery is shorter, less invasive, and has a much shorter recovery period, usually taking only 4 months to recover from.

Due to the risks associated with the surgery, candidacy for corneal transplant surgery is only reserved for those who need it. Many corneal problems are usually treatable using other measures. To be eligible for a corneal transplant:

  • Your vision must be significantly impeding your ability to function.
  • There are no other effective options to treat your corneal issue.
  • You must be able to take enough time to recover.

Concerned about your corneas or eye health? Schedule an appointment at Vermont Eye Laser in Burlington, VT!

There’s no time like the present to make your vision a priority in 2020!

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