The cornea is your eye’s transparent layer. Its basic function is to focus light on the eye and enable you to see. However, there are certain conditions where the cornea gets damaged. These include:
● Corneal ulcers caused by infection
● Hereditary eye diseases
● Injury on the eye that leads to cornea scarring
● Previous eye operation complications
● Keratoconus that thins and then bulges the cornea in a cone shape
● Clouding, thinning, or swelling of the cornea
If you face any of these troubles, you will have to opt for a corneal transplant. Else the light rays won’t pass appropriately from the cornea, and it will affect your vision. Your cornea will get better with proper treatment, letting you see without any problem. Now, let’s see what exactly happens in this transplant and how professionals correct your damaged cornea.
The process of corneal transplant begins with some examinations. These are done by your doctor to check your overall health and ensure that you are fit for the treatment. They will even ask you to take a few pre-transplant precautions, such as avoiding aspirin. Along with this, you will have to use an antibiotic drop in your eye for a day or two prior to the procedure. It will help to prevent the chances of infection in the eye.
Then, on the day of the transplant, the doctor will provide you with local or general anesthesia according to your medical condition and preferences. Finally, they replace the damaged corneal tissue with a healthy one obtained from a donor. Unlike other transplantations, this doesn’t require tissue matching. That is why taking the corneal tissue from dead people is much more convenient.
The process takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Your doctor may opt for one of these methods, depending on your corneal tissue’s damage level and other factors.
● Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK): In this treatment, the expert cuts through damaged tissue’s full thickness and remove a button-sized part of it. Due to the entire thickness incision, this process is also known as the full-thickness cornea transplant.
● Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK): This procedure includes removing the damaged tissue from the back corneal layers. It also affects the endothelium and Descemet membrane. These can get further divided into two parts as per the use of donor tissue.
● Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK): The amount of damage to your corneal tissue helps in deciding the type of ALK suitable for you. This method includes removing the tissue from the front corneal layers.
● Artificial Cornea Transplant: As the name suggests, this involves an artificial cornea instead of a donor one. This method is fit for people who don’t fit well with the usual cornea transplant procedures.
You can ask your eye doctor about with technique will be right for you. They will run specific tests on your eyes and then inform you about the same. Hence, there won’t be any scope for mistakes. One thing you need to remember here is that the cornea tissue isn’t taken from people who died of unknown causes or had some medical problems. You should inquire about this from your doctor to ensure that your donor tissues are coming from a safe place.
Like the corneal transplant procedure is painless, its recovery period is also comfortable. You only need to follow some instructions provided by your eye doctor. These guidelines will help you recover properly while minimizing any chances of complications. Some of the factors that you can expect during this period are:
Precautions: There are a number of cares that you will have to follow for a few days after the procedure. For example, you will need to wear eye protection like glasses to keep your eyes safe. Plus, the experts may recommend for you to lie on your back for some time following the treatment.
Routine Tasks: You won’t be able to do some of your regular tasks for a bit of time after the surgery. It is mainly done to avoid any injuries in the eye. As time goes on, you can slowly move towards these extensive activities.
Medication: Finally, you will be given medication by the doctor to soothe the pain and make you recover faster. Some eye drops and medicines also help in avoiding infection after the treatment. You will have to use these according to the experts’ guidance.
Regular Checkups: You will need to visit your eye doctor regularly for checkups because the risk of complications doesn’t end for years after surgery.
Usually, there is no significant risk involved with a corneal transplant. You just need to follow the instructions of your doctor, and everything will be smooth for you. However, some people still go through complications like:
● Donor cornea rejection
● Eye infection
● Glaucoma, where pressure within the eyeball rises
● Retinal complications
● Issues with the stitches
● Eye lens clouding
● Cornea swelling
In case you experience any discomfort after the treatment, you should immediately contact your doctor. They will look into the problem and resolve it in the best possible way. Moreover, you can reduce the risks of these complications by following the guidelines provided by your eye doctor. You should also inform them about your complete medical condition so that they will provide you with the proper treatment. Hiding anything related to your health from them will only lead you to problems.
Cornea rejection after transplantation is one of the most significant problems. In this, your immune system attacks the new cornea tissue by mistake. A few signs you will notice in the case of cornea rejection are:
● Eye pain
● Redness in eyes
● Vision loss
● Light sensitivity
You should inform your doctor about these signs. They will treat it straight away or suggest another cornea transplant.
The very first result of a Corneal Transplant is that your damaged cornea tissue gets replaced by a healthy one. Along with this, your vision may get improved after the procedure. However, you need to remember here that vision correction takes several months. Initially, you will have to deal with an even more flawed vision. It happens because your eye takes time to adjust to the new cornea. Once it becomes familiar with it, your vision improves, and you can see everything better.