When the cornea has experienced significant damage or you are at risk of significant vision loss, a corneal transplant may be necessary to preserve your eyesight. Continue reading to learn more about corneal transplants, corneal disease, and how Prestera Eye Care can help you. Our corneal transplant service is led by our highly trained ophthalmologist Dr. Kevin Garff, who has extensive experience treating corneal disease and providing corneal transplants.
What Causes Corneal Disease?
The causes of corneal disease can include various infections (viral, fungal, and bacterial), trauma, swelling following surgery, abrasion, and erosion. Corneal disease can result in significant damage to the cornea which can create a slew of serious symptoms and conditions. The effects of corneal disease can include distorted vision, scarring, clouding, and even blindness. Injury to your cornea and corneal disease should be treated right away to prevent the development of more significant damage, as well as maintain and restore your vision.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Corneal Transplant?
Candidates for a corneal transplant will have developed some form of corneal disease and are experiencing symptoms from their condition. Generally, corneal transplant patients have significant damage present in their cornea that cannot be corrected with less invasive treatments. Individuals with corneal disease can suffer from a wide range of symptoms from mild blurriness to complete loss of vision and can even suffer from pain in some cases. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a damaged cornea or corneal disease, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
What Is the Corneal Transplant Procedure Like?
At Prestera Eye, Dr. Garff utilizes various techniques to accomplish a successful transplant. Depending on your individual case, your surgeon may employ one of the following methods:
- Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP) – using a human donor graft, the cornea is replaced. This is a very delicate and complex procedure, and is often the last resort when other methods are deemed to be ineffective. This is used in cases of scarring, advanced keratoconus, and other disorders. However, in the hands of a highly trained ophthalmologist like Dr. Garff, this technique can be very effective at correcting corneal conditions and restoring vision.
- Endothelial Keratoplasty – this is a technique of partial corneal transplant performed to improve corneal edema (when the cornea becomes swollen). This can happen after cataract or glaucoma surgery or in diseases such as Fuchs’ dystrophy.
- Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK) – this technique does not require a full transplant — it is known as a partial-thickness corneal transplant. DSAEK is achieved by replacing only the thin endothelial layer with donor tissue, leaving the majority of the existing cornea intact. This allows for faster healing, as well as a lower chance of tissue rejection.
- Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) – the most cutting-edge form of partial-thickness corneal transplant, DMEK is similar to DSAEK. The main difference between these two methods is that a thinner piece of donor tissue is used. Patients who qualify for DMEK typically have shorter recovery times, and better resulting vision, but there can be potential complications with this method.
What Can I Expect During Recovery From a Corneal Transplant?
Much like other concerns surrounding corneal transplant, the recovery time will vary for each person. Depending on the extent of the damage to the patient’s cornea and the technique used to remedy their condition, the recovery time will differ on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, complete recovery times for a corneal transplant have ranged from a few weeks to a year or more, but patients will likely experience improved vision shortly after the procedure. At the initial consultation, our team will be able to better provide a timeframe based on each individual’s needs.
How Much Does a Corneal Transplant Cost?
The total cost of corneal transplant will be different for each patient, depending on the level of damage that needs to be addressed. There are also several different procedural techniques that can be utilized based on the individual’s condition, ultimately affecting the final price. Once Dr. Garff has had a chance to examine the cornea and discuss the individual’s needs, a more accurate cost estimate can be provided. Our practice offers convenient financing options in order to help make necessary treatments like corneal transplants more accessible and affordable to our patients.
Contact Prestera Eye Medical Group
If you want to know more about corneal transplants or the other services our practice offers, contact us today or schedule a consultation!