A standard corneal transplant replaces a damaged cornea with a healthy cornea from a donor. This is the most common type of transplant surgery. Corneal transplants usually occur on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient can go home following surgery. Corneal transplants may be performed for any of the following reasons:

  • To improve vision by replacing opaque, scarred tissue with clear healthy tissue
  • To preserve the cornea for patients with stromal thinning and descemetoceles, or to reconstruct the eye in case of corneal perforation
  • To treat corneal swelling, infection or dystrophy
  • To correct irregular curvature of the cornea (keratoconus/pellucid marginal degeneration)
  • To remove inflamed corneal tissue that has not responded to treatment by medication

The cornea has five layers and all are removed and replaced with a donor cornea.

  • In the operating room:
    • You will receive anesthesia to help you relax
    • The surgeon will inject numbing medicine behind the eye needing surgery
    • Your cornea will be removed and replaced with the donor cornea
    • 16 to 24 stitches are placed to keep the donor cornea in position
  • The surgery typically takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete. You will wear an eye patch overnight.

Potential benefits of the surgery include (but are not limited to):

  • Improved vision
  • Decreased discomfort
  • Improved functioning in daily activities

Potential risks of the surgery include but are not limited to:

  • Glaucoma
  • Rejection
  • Astigmatism

Alternatives to the surgery include:

  • No surgery
  • Rigid gas permeable contact lenses

You are likely to need glasses or contact lenses to enhance your vision after surgery. Also, eye drops are used frequently after surgery and then reduced within an appropriate time frame.