As a key part of our ophthalmology eye services, our physicians at Milan Eye Center offer patients from Atlanta corneal transplant surgery. The cornea is the transparent surface tissue on the very front of the eye. It is clear and covers the iris and pupil, and it helps to focus light. If your cornea becomes opaque, swollen, or scarred due to diseases such as keratoconus, Fuchs Dystrophy, or corneal scars from trauma or infection, then your vision can be compromised. Medication to control the damage to the cornea is usually the first line of treatment, but once it is clear that medication will not halt or alter the damage, a corneal transplant surgery is considered.
This surgical procedure involves the removal of the damaged tissue followed by replacement with healthy tissue from a carefully screened organ donor. Once it is determined that you are in need of corneal transplant surgery, Dr. Patel will place you on a list to receive corneal transplant tissue. Typically, the wait is very short.
Most patients have surgery on an outpatient basis and go home within an hour. The actual corneal transplant surgery takes approximately 45 minutes, and is usually done under a local anesthetic. You will be given medication for sedation while your eye is completely numbed. You will be awake but relaxed throughout the procedure. A sterile drape will be placed over your other eye. During surgery, you will be unable to move, blink or see out of your eye (faint shadows or dim light may be seen).
The entire operation is done under a surgical microscope. After taking measurements of the amount of tissue to be removed, your diseased corneal tissue is cut and lifted away from the eye with a special round tool that works much like a cookie cutter (called a trephine). Once the damaged tissue is removed, the donor cornea is cut to a matching size and placed on your eye. It is held in place with very fine stitches using suture material that is about as thin as a hair.
The main benefit of corneal transplant surgery is to enable you to regain much of the eyesight that was lost due to your original damaged cornea. The surgery can also eliminate symptoms due to the corneal condition. The recovery period for corneal transplant surgery is rather long. The stitches will remain in the eye for six to twelve months after the surgery. Eye drops will have to be used while the stitches are in place to assure proper healing. Vision will return slowly, with final improvements seen as far out as a year after surgery is performed.