Corneal transplantation

Corneal transplantation refers to replacement of all or part of the cornea (the front window of the eye) with a donor cornea. It was first performed in the early 1900’s.

It may be required for a variety of reasons which include; corneal scarring from a previous infection, keratoconus , or an inherited problem in the cornea.

Techniques have advanced considerably in recent years allowing us to preserve the healthy parts of the cornea which are unaffected by the disease process. Depending on the underlying problem, we can now transplant just the top (anterior) cornea, the bottom (posterior) cornea, or if needed, the whole cornea.

Who is corneal transplantation for?

Corneal transplantation may be the best solution for people suffering from:

  • Corneal scarring
  • Keratoconus
  • Corneal perforation
  • Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy
  • Complications from previous eye surgery

The specific transplant type is dependent on the underlying problem. Your surgeon will discuss in detail the surgery required as well as what to expect during the recovery process.

What happens during the procedure?

What happens during the procedure?

The surgical procedure times vary from 20 – 90 minutes depending on type of corneal transplantation and whether the procedure is combined with other procedures e.g. cataract surgery.

Most corneal transplant surgery is now carried out as day case surgery and can be done under local or general anaesthetic depending on type of transplant and patient preference.

A full-thickness transplant is called a penetrating keratoplasty (PK). During this procedure, a circular piece of damaged cornea from the centre of your eye is removed and replaced with the donated cornea.

Techniques for transplanting only part of the cornea have also been developed. Depending on the condition you are suffering from, a partial thickness transplant may be the best option for you, as the procedures often have a faster recovery time and a lower risk of complications.

The latest development in corneal transplantation is a procedure called DMEK, where just the affected back membrane of the cornea is transplanted- a layer that is just 10 microns thick.

How long will it take for my eyes to recover?

Visual recovery varies, with patients experiencing faster recovery after the partial thickness transplant procedures.

With the development and improvement of micro-surgical instrumentation, success rates of corneal transplantation have continually improved.

On the horizon, tissue engineering will allow us to grow new corneas in laboratory conditions, which will improve our results further and lower our dependence on donated corneal material.

In the meantime, we give our sincere thanks and appreciation to those who donate their eyes so that others can see.

Mr Mearza has recently perfomed DMEK surgery on both my eyes. The results have been amazing. He is a truly gifted surgeon without whose skill and dedication I would be facing quite a different future. He inspires trust the minute you first meet him and this grows with every meeting. I cannot thank him enough for giving me back the gift of sight.

Janice Jones

Corneal transplantation

Mr Mearza has recently perfomed DMEK surgery on both my eyes. The results have been amazing. He is a truly gifted surgeon without whose skill and dedication I would be facing quite a different future. He inspires trust the minute you first meet him and this grows with every meeting. I cannot thank him enough for giving me back the gift of sight.

Janice Jones

Corneal transplantation