The unilateral corneal blindness cases in India were estimated to be around 10.6 million in the year 2020. And the cases are only going to go up in the future. A corneal transplant is quite effective in restoring vision in the majority of cases. However, to achieve maximum treatments being done at the correct time, awareness about corneal transplant plays a huge role. Additionally, the best cornea specialist in india cost must be within the means of a large section of the population. Let’s discuss all the aspects of a cornea transplant in this article.
Before diving into the details of a cornea transplant, let’s discuss cornea in brief. The cornea is a dome-shaped outermost layer of the eye that acts as a protective barrier against germs, dust particles and hazardous UV light. It helps in clear vision by refracting light correctly onto the lens. Almost 75% of the eye’s optical power is based on the cornea. It is made up of three primary layers of tissue, with two thin membrane layers between them.
A cornea transplant is a surgical procedure to replace all or part of the cornea with healthy corneal tissue. The surgeon removes the damaged part of the clear, outermost layer of the eye. After which, the healthy corneal tissue of a donor is put in the place of the damaged cornea. A corneal transplant helps in restoring vision and reducing any pain in patients. It is also known as keratoplasty and has a high success rate with minimal risk of complications.
A cornea transplant is recommended for patients with a damaged cornea that causes blurred and cloudy vision with eye pain. It can also relieve other symptoms of corneal diseases. Here are a few conditions that can be successfully treated through keratoplasty:
● A hereditary eye condition, known as Fuch’s Dystrophy
● Corneal thinning and tearing
● Keratoconus, a condition that causes the cornea to bulge outwards
● Scars on cornea caused by infection or injury
● Corneal swelling
● Corneal ulcers that are not receptive to medical treatments
● Any complications that have arisen due to a previous eye surgery
Before a cornea transplant, the patient undergoes a thorough eye examination to ascertain and rule out any conditions that can cause risk after the transplant. Additionally, the ophthalmologist will review the patient’s medical history and current dosage of medicines or supplements. If any existing eye infection can affect the cornea transplant’s efficacy, it will be treated beforehand. The doctor will also measure the patient’s eye for finding the right size of a donor cornea.
Before starting the procedure, the patient will be given general anaesthesia, and the doctor will apply a numbing cream to the affected eye. After which the surgeon will hold the eye in place and choose one of the three cornea transplant options:
It is also known as full-thickness cornea transplantation that was developed more than 100 years ago. The advanced version of penetrating keratoplasty still remains the most common cornea transplant. In this procedure, a small circular blade is used to manually extract the entire layer of the damaged cornea. A healthy donor cornea of the same size is then put in place. It is usually recommended to patients with severe corneal damage, bulging or scarring.
Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty
This type of cornea transplant is suggested when the innermost corneal layer is healthy, but the outer and middle layers are damaged. It is also known as a partial-thickness cornea transplant. To separate the healthy inner layer, the surgeon injects air that lifts the outer and middle layers. These damaged layers are then replaced with healthy corneal tissue from a donor. It has a relatively shorter healing time and less risk of infection as the innermost layer remains untouched.
Endothelial keratoplasty is advised when the innermost layer of cornea known as endothelium is damaged. The innermost endothelial layer is made up of thin tissue known as Descemet’s membrane. Surgeons perform two types of endothelial keratoplasty as follows:
● Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK): In this, one-third of the cornea is replaced by donor tissue.
● Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK): In this, a relatively thinner layer of donor tissue is used.
However, in both procedures, the damaged cells are removed from the Descemet’s membrane.
For a few days post-surgery, the eye will remain red, sensitive to light and irritated. The surgeon will prescribe over-the-counter medicines for relieving pain. Moreover, the eye is covered with a patch that must be worn by the patient, especially while sleeping and showering. Activities that directly affect the eye should be avoided till recovery. Within 24-48 hours of the procedure, a follow-up is to be done with the doctor to remove the eye patch and check the healing status. The doctor will prescribe eye drops and ointments for faster recovery. A few extra measures such as wearing glasses, avoiding rubbing your eyes will be briefed by the surgeon.
The average cost of a cornea transplant in India is around Rs. 1,30,000 i.e. $2000. It is inclusive of the entire treatment process, starting from clinic visits to post-surgery care. India offers affordable healthcare with utmost quality treatment in comparison to other countries. The corneal transplant in India is cheaper for international patients as the cost is slashed down by a whopping 50%-70%. However, several factors such as the hospital’s location, surgeon’s experience, accreditation of the medical facility, hospital stay etc., can affect the cost.
A cornea transplant is a safer and effective treatment option for restoring vision due to corneal damage. The cost of a cornea transplant in India is largely economical for international patients. However, people from lower strata of society may struggle to bear the expenses. In all, India is a healthcare hub that offers top-notch treatment at a comparably lower cost.
Also Read- Corneal Opacity – Can be Reason for Vision Loss