Cornea transplantation can successfully replace these unhealthy corneas with a healthy new one and restore vision. The corneal transplant is an amazing procedure and has restored eyesight to millions. The most common reasons for undergoing a corneal transplant are to improve vision, reduce pain, or to maintain the structural integrity of the eye.
Cornea transplants have been performed for several decades and approximately 40,000 are done in the USA yearly. New understandings and therapies of eye surface disease in tandem with advances in cornea transplantation have allowed for greater cornea transplant success than ever before.
With a conventional corneal transplant, the full thickness of the central 7-8 millimeters of the cornea is completely removed. An entire new donor cornea that has been prepared by an eye bank is carefully sutured in place with fine stitches. These stitches can remain in the eye for over a year.You will not have any pain during the procedure or see the surgery while it is happening. Unlike cataract surgery, where visual recovery is rapid, the healing time after a full thickness corneal transplant can take between 6 months to over one year before the best vision is obtained.
The New Cornea Transplant – DSAEK
An innovative procedure known as DSAEK has been used with great success by Dr. Fedyk. DSAEK is not nearly as invasive as the traditional corneal transplant, and requires considerably less recovery time. Rather than removing your entire cornea, Dr. Fedyk will make a small incision in the side of the eye and replace only the damaged portion at the back inner dome of the cornea with donor cells. DSAEK uses the specialized instrumentation designed for LASIK. The donor cornea is prepared using the LASIK instruments to create only a thin layer of tissue to transplant. This thin layer contains a new healthy layer of cells.
Rather than facing a potential one-year recovery period (a huge drawback for the old corneal transplant method patients), the healing time is mere months for DSAEK patients. Another benefit: the procedure involves little or no stitches. The incision required for the surgery is very small. DSAEK is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. The patient can go home after surgery without even having to have an eye patch. Finally, there is also less risk of rejection because the majority of the cornea remains in place.