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Corneal Transplantation- What should you expect?

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you have already made up your mind to undergo a corneal transplantation. Here, we will help you understand and evaluate the need for it, how should you prepare, the procedure, and ultimately the risks and recovery.


The need for corneal transplantation

Cornea has a wonderful ability to self-heal minor inflections and scratches. However in case of deeper infections and injuries, and in some cases of serious eye disorders and degenerative diseases, corneal transplantation becomes the ideal or only course of treatment. This may include Fuch’s and Lattice Dystrophy, Bulging and Thinning of the Cornea (ectatic disorders such as pellucid degeneration), Corneal Swelling, Scarring or Clouding, Cornea Ulcer or advanced Keratoconus. These conditions can be detected by visiting an eye specialist in any of the reputed eye hospitals in your city.


Once the advice for a transplant is confirmed, here is a list of things that you can expect and ask for while preparing for a corneal transplantation:-

  • Extensive eye tests in your eye hospital to take eye measurements and check the exact condition.
  • In case you are facing any other eye-related issue, you can expect your doctor to treat that before proceeding with the transplant.
  • Disclose if you are on any medications as it may interfere with the surgery and recovery.
  • Ask the doctor/eye hospital if you can eat or drink anything prior to the surgery.
  • Remove your jewellery and accessories and wear comfortable clothes on the day of corneal transplantation.
  • Ensure that you are accompanied by someone trusted post the surgery.

The Procedure

Corneal transplantation is an in-patient procedure, however you can go home on the same day of the surgery. It usually takes 1-2 hours for the surgery and you might additionally spend 2-4 hours in the eye hospital to recover. During the surgery, you shall be injected with some local anaesthesia around the eye or given a general anaesthetic to ensure that the procedure is painless and easy. It involves usage of a microscope and a cutting instrument to remove the damaged cornea/corneal tissues and replace it with a healthy cornea, followed by some stitches with an ultra-thin thread (which is removed in the following months).

Risks and Recovery

Expect slight uneasiness in the following days of the surgery and you might be required to wear an eye-patch. Avoid rubbing your eyes and use prescribed medication for quick healing and recovery, which might take few weeks. Corneal transplantation usually carries low to moderate risk. However, some successful transplants fail due to body’s immunity & rejection of the graft. If the surgery is followed by vomiting, fever, nausea, chills, chest pain or coughing, inform the surgeon and visit your eye hospital immediately. The risks involved include bleeding, swelling of the eye, infections, glaucoma or cataract and graft rejection (failure).

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