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Corneal Transplant



Corneal transplants are used to treat a multitude of corneal conditions and diseases. During a corneal transplant, the surgeon removes a portion of your cornea and replaces it with a healthy donor cornea. The procedure is also called a keratoplasty. Patients need a corneal transplant when the cornea is no longer able to let in light due to disease or scarring.

The cornea needs to be clear in order for you to see properly. However, a number of problems can damage the cornea, decreasing your vision. Some of these problems include:

  • Corneal scarring
  • Keratoconus
  • Inherited disorders (dystrophies) such as Fuch's dystrophy
  • Thinning cornea
  • Clouding of the cornea
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Corneal ulcers

There are a few types of corneal transplant: penetrating (full thickness) and lamellar. The cornea is made up of five different layers. Sometimes, not all layers need to be transplanted during a corneal transplant. A corneal transplant with only a few layers being replaced is called a lamellar corneal transplant. When the entire cornea needs to be replaced, the patient will have a penetrating, or full thickness, corneal transplant.

The Procedure

A corneal transplant is performed using local anesthesia, and medications to numb the eye and keep it from moving. The patient is awake during a corneal transplant, although sedated during the surgery.

Corneal TransplantDuring a full thickness corneal transplant, the doctor will cut through the entire thickness of the abnormal or diseased cornea to remove a button-sized disc of corneal tissue. The instrument used acts like a cookie cutter - shaped to cut a precise circle. The donor cornea is cut to fit the opening, then replaces the patient's cornea. The surgeon then uses a fine thread to stitch the new cornea into place. The stitches are removed at a later visit during a follow-up appointment.

With some types of cornea problems, a full-thickness cornea transplant isn't always the best course of action. Partial-thickness (lamellar) transplants may be performed in certain situations. During a partial-thickness corneal transplant, patients may need an inner layer or a surface layer replaced, depending on their conditions.

After the procedure, the patient will receive several medications, such as eye drops, and occasionally oral medications will be used prior to corneal transplant surgery. These medications will help control swelling, pain and possible infection. The patient will need to wear an eye patch as it heals after surgery. Frequent follow-up exams will be scheduled to ensure everything is healing correctly.

If you have questions or concerns regarding corneal transplants at Koch Eye, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call!

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The Greater New Bedford Surgical and Laser Center

The Greater New Bedford Surgical and Laser Center was opened in 1986 with the express purpose of rendering high quality, state of the art eye surgery to patients of all ages, especially those with cataracts, glaucoma, or cornea disease. The Center is designed specifically with the needs of the patient in mind. The entire process from initial examination to final outcome is conducted in a pleasant comfortable environment.

After a patient decides to have surgery, he or she is assigned his or her own Surgical Counselor who is available to answer questions and provide assistance. These individuals are specially trained to assist the patient throughout the entire surgical experience, including follow up care for as long as necessary. Patients are encouraged to contact their counselor for any questions, no matter how simple or complex.