What is a corneal transplant?
When a cornea becomes cloudy, light is unable to penetrate the eye to reach the retina. This can result in decreased vision or blindness. A corneal transplant is done to replace a diseased or scarred cornea with a new one. Of all tissue transplants, corneal transplants are the most successful, with more than 40,000 performed in the United States each year.
Corneal transplant surgery—what to expect
During a corneal transplant procedure, which lasts about an hour, the surgeon will remove the central portion of the cloudy cornea and replace it with a clear cornea, usually donated through an eye bank. Patients are given a mild sedative and the eye is numbed with a local anesthetic. A trephine, an instrument like a cookie cutter, is used to remove the cloudy cornea with a precise, circular cut. The surgeon places the new cut-to-fit cornea in the opening and sews it with a very fine thread. Following surgery, eye drops will be needed for several months to help heal the eye.