Corneal transplants are recommended for reasons varying from diseases to eye injuries. The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil and anterior chamber. An unhealthy cornea affects your vision by scattering or distorting light and causing glare and blurred vision. A transplant is performed to protect the eye's inner structures, relieve pain and improve vision. A graft replaces central corneal tissue with healthy tissue donated from an eye bank.
A corneal transplant is done in its entirety (penetrating keratoplasty) or in part (lamellar keratoplasty). More than 40,000 cornea transplants are performed in the United States each year. The surgical procedure is performed by Dr. DiStefano on an outpatient basis.
Donor corneas are checked for clarity and meticulously screened for disease to ensure the health and safety of the recipient. After anesthesia is administered, a round-shaped section of tissue is removed from your diseased or injured cornea. An identical shape from the donor tissue is sutured into place. A plastic shield is placed over your eye to protect it during healing. The surgery takes from one to two hours to complete.
After surgery, your vision will be blurry and the site of the transplant may be swollen and slightly thicker than the rest of your cornea. Strenuous activities are limited for several weeks, but you should be able to return to work within a week. Steroid eye drops will be prescribed for several months to help your body accept the new graft. Your eye should be protected at all times by wearing a shield or glasses.
Typically, your vision typically will continue to improve for up to one year following your surgery. You will need vision correction (glasses or contact lenses) for nearsightedness and astigmatism, because the curve of the corneal transplant cannot match exactly the curve of your existing cornea. Because your vision will fluctuate during the first three months following surgery, Dr. DiStefano will wait to fit you with glasses or contact lenses.
During your consultation for corneal transplant, the staff at DiStefano Eye Center will explain the risks and benefits of the procedure.