The cornea is the transparent front portion of the eye which covers the pupil, iris, and anterior chamber. During refractive surgery, the cornea can be carefully reshaped in order to improve a person’s vision. But that isn’t the only corneal procedure that we perform at our Chicago laser eye surgery centers. In some cases, it’s necessary to remove a patient’s cornea and replace it. We’d like to take a moment right now to look at corneal transplant surgery and how it is performed.

What is corneal transplant surgery?

Corneal transplant surgery is a procedure in which a patient’s existing cornea is removed and replaced by a corneal tissue graft from an eye bank. Corneal transplant surgery is also referred to as corneal grafting.

Who is an ideal candidate for corneal transplant surgery?

Ideal candidates for corneal transplant surgery are people who:

Have injured or scarred corneas due to physical traumaHave corneas damaged by infection or other eye conditionsHave swelling of the corneasHave severe LASIK complicationsHave thinning or irregularly shaped corneas

Sometimes a less invasive treatment may be better for a patient than a full or partial corneal transplant surgery, though this varies from patient to patient. Our eye doctors serving Chicago, Highland Park, and Hoffman Estates will help you make the best decision based on your needs.

What to Expect During Corneal Transplant Surgery

Patients who undergo corneal transplant surgery will be placed under general anesthesia or local anesthetic with sedation to eliminate discomfort. The surgeons will perform the procedure using a surgical microscope. Let’s look at the different surgical techniques right now.

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP)

Penetrating keratoplasty is the most commonly known sort of corneal transplant technique. It involves the removal of the entire cornea, which is then replaced by donor corneal tissue. This donor tissue is carefully sutured in place.

Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (ALK)

Anterior lamellar keratoplasty involves the removal of a superficial layer of the corneal stroma rather than the whole cornea. The cornea consists of several layers. From topmost to bottommost: the epithelium, the Bowman’s layer, the stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and the endothelium. The stroma is the largest portion of the cornea.

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK)

During deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, the whole stroma is removed and replaced.

Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK and DMEK)

Endothelial keratoplasty is performed on patients with issues related to the endothelium. The transplant tissue may consist of stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and endothelium (DSEK) or Descemet’s membrane and endothelium (DMEK).

The Best Option to Consider for Your Needs

Each of the surgeries we’ve mentioned above may be necessary for you or a loved one in order to maintain vision or even just the general health of the eyes. It’s important that our Chicago LASIK and eye care specialists perform a comprehensive examination in order to determine which surgical technique is best for you and your needs.

Learn More About Corneal Transplant Surgery

For more information about corneal transplant surgery and how our ophthalmologists and optometrists can help you, be sure to contact our laser eye care centers in the Chicago area today. Our entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and discussing these matters in greater detail.

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