What is a corneal graft?
The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye. If this window becomes cloudy or damaged vision can be dramatically reduced. Corneal transplantation, also known as corneal grafting, is considered a sight restoring surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced by donated corneal tissue (the graft) in its entirety (penetrating keratoplasty) or in part (lamellar keratoplasty). It is one of the most common transplant procedures performed today.
Types of corneal graft
There are several different types of Corneal grafts performed:
Full Thickness (Penetrating Keratoplasty)
Involves cutting through the entire surface of the diseased or abnormal cornea. A small button sized disc of the cornea is removed and replaced by a donor cornea. This is fitted into the opening and then stitched into place. These sutures are painless and nearly invisible. The stitches will be removed at a later date.
A partial thickness transplant involves removing and replacing only the layers of the cornea that are affected. Because a large area of the cornea remains it generally allows for a more stable outcome. We perform two types of partial thickness grafts:
- Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK)
This replaces all the layers of the cornea except the two innermost layers.
- Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)
This replaces the innermost layer of the cornea.
The Donor tissue is provided by The Lions NSW Eye Bank. The Eye Bank provides over 450 grafts to the people of NSW each year. However the availability of corneas is limited and the demand is high.
Why the procedure is performed
A corneal transplant is recommended for people who have:
- Vision problems caused by thinning of the cornea, usually due to keratoconus (genetic distortion)
- When less invasive treatments are not an option
- Scarring of the cornea from severe infections or injuries
- Vision loss caused by cloudiness of the cornea
After the transplant your own corneal cells will slowly grow and fuse to the donor tissue. Because of the complexity and nature of surgery it normally takes months to achieve your best possible vision. This is why full recovery of your eyesight is gradual and varies depending on the type of surgery you have had.
Following the surgery the use of antibiotic and anti rejection drops may be necessary. A protective eye patch will be placed over your eye after the procedure.
Dr. Peter Kim
Burwood Eye Clinic
36 Burwood Road, Burwood, 2134
P. (02) 9747 2555, (02) 9747 2253
Dr. James Genge
Northern Beaches Eye Surgery
834 Pittwater Rd, Dee Why, 2099
P. (02) 9981 1771
Dr. Yves Kerdraon
Sydney Cornea Clinic
Level 12, 187 Macquarie Street
P. (02) 9233 7333
T (02) 9716 3580
F (02) 9716 3537
Monday - Friday (7am - 4pm)
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