As a key part of our ophthalmology eye services, our physicians offer patients 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 becomes a possibility.
We offer several different types of corneal transplants which are dependent on the patient’s specific needs. Below are the three most common types performed by our surgeons:
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, one of our Atlanta ophthalmology specialists will place you on a list to receive corneal transplant tissue. Typically, the wait is very short.
Most patients have surgery done on an outpatient basis. 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 eye surgery 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 that it enables you to regain much of the eyesight that you lost from 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.
If you think you might be a good candidate for corneal transplant surgery, contact us to better understand the treatment options available to you. Make an appointment today at one of our eight convenient locations.
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