What is the Cornea?
The cornea is the clear front windshield of the eye. It is responsible for two-thirds of the focusing power of the eye. If the cornea is damaged or irregular from injury or disease it can cause significant loss of vision.
If the cornea becomes damaged and vision is limited, a corneal transplant may be done to help restore some sight.
Corneal transplantation is one of the most successful transplant surgeries performed in the world. More than 40,000 corneal transplants are performed in the U.S. every year, and the procedure has a higher success rate than any other tissue transplant.
It can be required for any of the following reasons or conditions:
Corneal scarring from injury or chemical burns
Types of Corneal Transplant Surgeries
There are two main types of corneal transplant surgeries: Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK) and Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK). Your doctor will decide which procedure is best suited for correcting your specific corneal condition. After a corneal transplant, it can take up to six months or longer to achieve your best vision.
Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK) works by replacing just the inner layer of the cornea, leaving the remainder of your cornea intact. The transplanted tissue is initially held in place by an air bubble inside the eye, which dissolves within the first few days. The transplant will attach in 90% of cases but may need to be reattached or replaced in some situations. Vision usually returns between one to three months, but best corrected vision may take six months or longer.
Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK) involves replacing the entire, full thickness central-two-thirds of the cornea, leaving the peripheral portion intact. The transplanted tissue is held in place with 24 sutures in the early healing phase. These sutures will be periodically removed by your doctor during the first year of healing. Best vision usually comes after at least six to 15 months.
We are proud to be a partner in sight with Saving Sight, a program of the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.
Saving Sight retrieves, processes and distributes the highest quality donor eye tissue to corneal surgeons in the three-state region of Missouri, Kansas and Illinois before it’s offered to those nationally as well as internationally. We encourage our patients to write anonymous “thank you” notes that will be forwarded to the family of the donor.
Learn more about Saving Sight at saving-sight.org.
Our Cornea Transplant Team
Michelle Boyce, M.D.
Clinic Manager and Surgical Coordinator