Cornea Treatment & Corneal Transplant in Austin TX
The cornea is the transparent front portion of the eye. The cornea must be clear and have a normal shape for good vision. Any change in clarity or shape of the cornea can cause poor vision or blindness.
One condition affecting the shape of the cornea is keratoconus. The cornea gradually becomes cone shaped and develops considerable astigmatism. Many patients with keratoconus are able to see with contact lenses, however some will become intolerant to contact lenses and may require corneal transplantation.
Another corneal disease which affects the transparency of the cornea is Fuchs’ Endothelial Dystrophy, a condition where the cells of the innermost layer of the cornea become unhealthy and are unable to remove fluid from the cornea. The cornea becomes swollen and cloudy. Scarring from trauma and infections of the cornea can also affect corneal clarity.
Corneal transplantation involves partial or complete removal of a cloudy or unhealthy cornea and replacement with a cornea donated by another human being at death.
Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)
This procedure involves removing the whole cornea and replacement with a full thickness cornea from a donor. The new cornea is then secured with many stitches. Stitches are typically completely removed by one year after surgery. Patients who have had a penetrating keratoplasty require glasses or contact lenses for visual correction.
Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)
Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)
These are newer procedures that involve replacing only the innermost layer of the cornea. DSEK and DMEK are ideally suited for conditions such as Fuchs’ Endothelial Dystrophy where only the innermost layer of the cornea is diseased. These procedures involve peeling off the inner layer of the cornea and transplanting the inner layer of a donor cornea. The donor cornea is then held in place with an air bubble. While the procedure is technically challenging, it offers the advantage of faster visual recovery.