What is a Cornea Transplant?
A cornea transplant, also called a cornea graft or a keratoplasty, is a procedure used to replace damaged cornea tissue with either donor tissue or an artificial alternative. The cornea is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye that acts as a window. The surgery can be used to improve vision, relieve pain, or resolve a serious infection or illness. Patients with keratoconus, which causes the cornea to change shape, may benefit from a cornea transplant.
Reasons for a Cornea Transplant
Cornea transplants are used to restore vision for patients with damaged corneas. Keratoconus, which causes the cornea to bulge forward, is the most common reason for a cornea transplant. Other reasons may include cornea ulcers, cornea swelling, cornea tearing, and cornea scarring from an infection or injury that isn’t relieved with medication or other treatments.
How Does a Cornea Transplant Work?
The type of procedure will depend on the extent of the damage. A cornea transplant replaces either the entire thickness or partial thickness of the damaged cornea. When the entire thickness is replaced, the surgery is called penetrating keratoplasty. If the back layers only are replaced, it is called an endothelial keratoplasty. Donor corneas are widely available and do not require a specific tissue match like other organ donations, but, in some cases, an artificial cornea may be used.
During the procedure, the patient will be given a sedative and anesthesia. Surgery is done one eye at a time. The damaged portion is removed and the new cornea is typically attached with stitches that your doctor will later remove.
What Are the Potential Outcomes of Surgery?
Cornea transplants restore vision at least partially for more than 90% of patients. Complications, while uncommon, may include glaucoma, which is increased intra-ocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve. Some patients may experience bleeding or eye infections. In rare occasions, a patient may reject the transplant, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks the donor cornea. Symptoms of rejection include pain, redness, light sensitivity, and vision loss.
What Does the Recovery from a Cornea Transplant Involve?
After the procedure, patients typically receive eyedrops and possibly oral medication to help manage pain and swelling. Medication will also be used to fight possible infection and to suppress the immune system to reduce the risk of rejection. Patients will be advised to wear eye shields or glasses to protect healing eyes and may be asked to lie on their backs to help the new tissue stay in place. They will be asked to restrict normal activities, such as work and exercise, while they recover. They will need to take extra care to protect their eyes, including avoiding tugging or rubbing on them, and to visit their Cizik Eye Clinic doctor regularly for follow-up exams.
What you can expect at the Cizik Eye Clinic
The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.
People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.
Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or are board eligible. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.
At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.