The cornea is the front surface of your eye, which helps to focus light so you can see clearly. It is composed of many layers of cells that protect your delicate eye and enable sharp sight. If the cornea becomes damaged in any way, it will not focus light properly. This leads directly to blurry vision. When the cornea does not heal well and cannot be repaired, your eye doctor may advise you to have a corneal transplant with healthy tissue from an organ donor.
Our eye doctor, Dr. Richard Chu, D.O., is a Fellowship-Trained Corneal Specialist with top qualifications and experience in modern corneal transplantation. We are pleased to offer his corneal transplant services in our eye care centers in Fort Worth and Southlake, TX. If you have been told that you may require a corneal transplant, read on to understand about the different surgical techniques.
Types of Corneal Transplants
Full Thickness Corneal Transplant
If the inner and frontal layers of your cornea are both damaged, you may require a full corneal transplant – called a penetrating keratoplasty (PK). In this procedure, the unhealthy cornea is removed and replaced with a clear donor cornea. Recovery from PK is typically longer than other types of transplants, and it could take up to a year for full vision to be restored.
Partial Thickness Corneal Transplant
When only the front and middle layers of the cornea are damaged, sometimes only those layers need to be removed. The thin back layer of your cornea, called the endothelial layer, remains in place. This type of corneal transplant is often used to treat keratoconus (an irregular, cone-shaped cornea). Recovery from a partial corneal transplant is generally shorter than from a full transplant. The risk of your body rejecting the new cornea is also minimized.
The endothelium is the innermost layer of your cornea. When this portion is damaged, the cornea will swell and interfere with clear vision. Endothelial keratoplasty can replace only this inner layer with healthy corneal tissue from a donor.
Two different methods of endothelial keratoplasty can be performed – either DSEK (also called DSAEK), or DME, and your eye doctor will decide which surgery is most appropriate. With both of these procedures, a small incision is made in order to remove the unhealthy cells from within the cornea, from a layer called Descemet’s membrane. The new tissue is then placed and the incision is stitched shut. Because the majority of the cornea is left untouched, the risk of your body rejecting the new corneal cells is significantly lower.
Corneal Transplants in Fort Worth and Southlake
Corneal transplants are generally performed on an outpatient basis, and your eye surgeon will apply both eye drops and anesthesia so you do not feel pain. After the surgery, you will require a shield over your eye to protect it while healing. Once you have recovered from the anesthesia, you will be allowed to return home with instructions on how to care for your eye.
Dr. Chu, our Fort Worth and Southlake, TX, eye doctor has specialized experience in modern transplant techniques. He has performed thousands of these procedures, thereby helping patients with conditions such as keratoconus, bullous keratopathy, Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy, or corneal scarring. For more information, call to book a consultation in our eye care centers in Southlake or Fort Worth.