Corneal transplant involves removing the central area of a patient’s cornea and replacing it with a new cornea from a donor. The surgery is a same-day outpatient procedure that usually takes less than an hour and is performed under sedation. Once the damaged cornea is removed, the surgeon stitches the transplanted cornea in place.
An eye patch and shield are used to protect the eye after surgery until the post-operative appointment the following day. Strenuous physical activity should be limited until healing has occurred. Subsequent clinic visits are scheduled to assess healing and remove the sutures as needed. Although full visual recovery can take a year or more, the eye is comfortable in about a week.
The cornea is the clear “watch crystal” of the eye. Anything that alters the clarity or contour of the cornea can reduce vision. Examples of the above would include scars from infection or trauma, swelling from hereditary diseases, or thinning from collagen diseases.
Corneal tissue is acquired from human donors upon death. Transplants can either be full thickness, (penetrating keratoplasty), partial thickness, (Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty) or ultrathin transplants (Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty). The Eye Guys offer all of the above transplant options as an outpatient at Eye Surgery Center of Augusta.
For more information, or to find out if you are a candidate for this procedure, please call:
DSAEK, short for Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty, is a procedure that replaces the innermost layer of the cornea, called the endothelium, with healthy donor tissue. DSAEK is often used to treat conditions like Fuchs’ dystrophy.
Fuchs’ dystrophy is a condition that causes endothelial cells to break down, resulting in vision loss. DSAEK uses local anesthesia, which numbs the eye and keeps you from feeling pain.
After this occurs, your surgeon will create a small incision in the cornea before removing the damaged endothelial layer. Once the damaged endothelial layer is removed, your surgeon will place a thin piece of donor tissue on the cornea.
The donor tissue contains endothelial cells attached to the cornea using an air bubble. The bubble holds the donor tissue into place, allowing it to adhere to the cornea.
After ensuring the tissue is in the correct place, your surgeon will remove the air bubble and close the incision. You’ll be monitored for signs of any complications before being allowed to go home.
You’ll also be given instructions, including a schedule of eye drops to take and activities to avoid for the next several weeks during healing.
DMEK, short for Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty, is a procedure that’s similar to DSAEK. However, only the thin membrane is removed and replaced rather than replacing the full endothelial layer. DMEK is considered a more advanced technology compared to DSAEK.
During DMEK, you’ll receive local anesthesia to ensure the most comfort possible. After this occurs, your surgeon will create a small incision in the cornea.
They will insert a small folded-up piece of donor tissue in the eye and, with a special instrument, will unfold the tissue. Your surgeon will position the donor tissue over your damaged endothelial layer, which will adhere to the cornea.
Once it’s in the correct place and positioned correctly, a small amount of air will be injected into your eye, which helps the donor tissue stick to the cornea. You’ll be monitored after the procedure, and once cleared, you can return home to begin your recovery. You’ll need to take eye drops and follow all instructions, including avoiding some activities for several weeks while your eye heals.