Surgical & Post-Op Information
Corneal transplants can be performed using general or local anesthetic plus intravenous sedation. To prepare the tissue for the most common of transplants, penetrating keratoplasty, the surgeon removes a corneal button from the central part of the donor cornea using an instrument called a trephine. To create the recipient bed to receive the donor corneal button, the surgeon removes the central 60 to 80% of the host cornea using similar instruments. The donor corneal button, which is trephined slightly larger than the recipient bed, is then sutured in place.
Post-operative medications are used for several weeks and topical steroids for several months. In some cases, corneal astigmatism occurs and can be reduced by suture adjustment or the removal of selected sutures. The full visual potential may take quite some time to achieve because of the healing process, corneal astigmatism, and other factors. In many patients, a rigid contact lens is placed over the corneal transplant to simulate the smooth, glossy surface of a healthy cornea.
To protect the eye from inadvertent trauma after transplantation, the recipient may wear a patch with a plastic or metal shield, and/or protective eyeglasses or sunglasses. Recipients are usually advised against bending over to pick up a heavy object or straining.
The corneal transplant is not only the oldest transplant performed but also the most common and successful human transplant performed. The prognosis for a clear, functioning corneal transplant varies by diagnosis. The chance of long-term transplant success is higher than 94%, according to the Eye Bank Association of America. The generally high rate of success of corneal transplantation is attributed to many factors, including the effectiveness of the immunosuppressive drugs used to treat graft rejection.
If you have any concerns, contact your ophthalmologist. Your doctor will be able to inform you of the risks and rewards of the corneal transplant.