The cornea is the dome-shaped window that forms the front surface of the eye. It is made up of several layers, all of which are transparent. Diseases of the cornea may affect one or more of these layers.
Corneal transplant surgery, also known as corneal graft surgery and keratoplasty, replaces an abnormal cornea with a cornea from a donor eye in order to restore vision.
Many people with a cloudy cornea from scarring after infection or injury will benefit from corneal transplant surgery. Some inherited or degenerative conditions, like Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy, may lead to swelling of the cornea, which requires corneal transplant surgery when it affects the vision or causes pain. In keratoconus the cornea becomes thinned and distorted, resulting in blurring of vision. In about 15% of cases, when other treatments such as contact lenses no longer help, corneal transplantation is necessary.
Unlike most other organ transplants, if a corneal transplant fails it can be repeated, although the success rate of repeat transplants may be lower than first time transplants.
Corneal transplant surgery may be performed under general or local anaesthetic. It generally takes between 1 and 2 hours and is day surgery, not requiring an overnight hospital stay.
Other corneal disorders only require replacement of the innermost corneal layer, or endothelium. In Fuchs’ dystrophy and bullous keratopathy only this thin layer needs to be replaced, in a procedure known as ‘descemets stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty’ (DSAEK). This is done through a small keyhole incision at the edge of the cornea and has the advantages of a faster healing time and no/minimal stitches on the eye.
Corneal transplantation is quite a major surgery for the eye and should not be undertaken lightly. The healing period can be over a year for full-thickness corneal transplant and while the final vision can be as good as 20/20 (6/6), this is certainly not guaranteed.
Southern Cross Affiliated provider benefit to Corneal transplant Patients
- no need for prior approval
- Southern Cross pays Eye Doctors directly