Cornea is the transparent layer of the eye which helps focus and transmit light through the lens onto the retina. When the cornea is damaged beyond repair transplanting a donated cornea becomes a necessity. The cornea harvested after the donor’s death is screened for infectious diseases before grafting.
Causes for damage
- Congenital abnormalities
- Childhood infections like measles
- Severe trauma
- Degenerative diseases due to exposure to harsh light
Types of corneal grafts
Partial thickness or Lamella grafts are used to treat conditions of the cornea where the damage is mostly restricted to the front surface of the cornea and only the front part of the cornea is replaced.
Full thickness or penetrating grafts are more commonly used and result in the whole of the cornea being replaced.
- Eyesight is blurred immediately after surgery
- Eye may water and be sensitive to light
- Sight will fluctuate due to the healing process
- Cornea shape may change and necesitate glasses after a few months
- There is absolutely no change in the physical appearance of the eye
In the hour-long operation the central piece of the cornea is cut and removed. This is replaced by the donor cornea. The fine stitches will stay in place for up to 2 years and it will take at least a year to heal completely. The eye is covered with an eye pad and a protective plastic eye shield post-surgery. This is removed a day after the surgery and normal activities can be resumed as soon as possible. The patient returns home in a few hours.
- Apply prescribed medication strictly according to schedule
- Avoid smoky and dusty rooms, which can cause irritation.
- Wear sunglasses if the eye is light sensitive
- Do not play contact sports and swimming in particular. Ask the doctor if you are unclear which sports you should avoid
- You will need at least 2-4 weeks off work, but again this will be discussed with you on an individual basis.
- Avoid driving until the doctor tells you otherwise
- Stick to your follow up appointments to check for other problems like cataract and retinal detachment
- Return to the hospital immediately if you have :
a. Increased pain
b. Increased redness
c. Increased watering or discharge
d. Further reduction in the vision