Corneal Transplantation for Corneal and External Eye Diseases

p-aao-b20The cornea is the clear covering on the front of the eye which bends, or refracts, light rays that focus on the retina in the back of the eye. A certain shape or curvature is required in order for light to focus exactly on the retina, rather than in front of it or behind it.

An improperly curved cornea may be corrected surgically or non-invasively to reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. A thorough eye examination and consultation are necessary before a treatment decision can be made.

Corneal transplantation, or keratoplasty, is recommended when the cornea’s curvature is too steep or flat to be treated with other methods, or when extensive damage has occurred due to disease, infection or injury.

Common problems that require transplantation are:

  • Dry Eyes
  • Blepharitis
  • Recurrent Erosion
  • Corneal Ulceration
  • Herpes Simplex Keratopathy
  • Pseudophakic Corneal Decompensation
  • Keratoconus
  • Corneal Dystrophies
  • Pterygia
  • External tumors
  • Eye infections
  • Traumatic injury
  • Ocular surface diseases
  • Chemical burn

Transplantation involves replacing the damaged cornea with a healthy one from a donor (usually through an eye bank). Keratoplasty is a low-risk procedure – it is the most common type of transplant surgery and has the highest success rate.

During the procedure, a circular incision is made in the cornea. A disc of tissue is removed and replaced with healthy tissue; these discs may be thin (lamellar keratoplasty) or as deep as the entire cornea (penetrating keratoplasty, the technique used in almost all corneal transplants). Local or general anesthesia may be used. The entire procedure lasts only 30-90 minutes.

Actual transplants performed by Dr. Maehara

Traditional Corneal Transplant (with sutures)

Sutureless Partial Thickness DSEK Transplant.

Dr. Jeffrey Maehara also performs a modern version of corneal transplantation called DSEK (descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty).  This is a partial thickness transplant to treat conditions where the inner layer of corneal cells are not healthy and don’t function properly.  Only the inner layer of the cornea is replaced through a small incision. This less invasive procedure has the advantage of quicker visual recovery, less induced astigmatism, and less change in the glasses prescription.

Give us a call at 808.955.3937 or click here for more information on Corneal Transplantation.