Diseased corneas can be treated with the transplantation of healthy human corneal tissue donated from another person after their death. After this fairly quick procedure is complete, patients will see continual improvements in their vision as the weeks and months go on.
Cornea transplant procedures are very successful and it is a procedure to treat someone who has a corneal disease that has caused the loss of vision. So someone who has had an injury or an infection or may have had an inherited condition of the cornea that causes the cornea to become cloudy or opaque, their vision is impaired. So replacing the cornea that is opaque with a healthy clear new cornea will help to restore their sight. Modern cornea transplant surgery was developed really in the 1940s and has evolved since that time to become a very common procedure. Around 50,000 cornea transplant procedures are performed worldwide each year and the majority of them are probably performed in the United States. Cornea transplant surgery involves the replacement of the diseased cornea with a donor healthy corneal tissue. So someone who has donated their eyes after their death, the corneal tissue is used as a transplant to a patient. So it is a living human cornea that we use for the procedure. The surgery itself involves the removal of the diseased tissue and then preparing the donor tissue that matches the proper size to the patient’s eye and then sewing that in place with a very delicate nylon suture. These sutures are placed in the eye with a knots buried into the tissues so that patients will not feel the sutures at all. They are very comfortable and someone looking at your eye that has had a corneal transplant should really not even be aware of that there has been a surgery. It looks normal after the procedure. The stitches are held in place for a minimum of three months and at that point, some of the sutures may be removed, but most of the stitches are in left in place for about a year and that is because the cornea heals very slowly after a transplant. Corneal transplant surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure and it is performed under local anesthesia with some sedation to make patients very comfortable. The procedure itself takes about a half an hour to perform. The process of recovery may take three to six months before the site is fully restored. But immediately after surgery, patients will have fairly good comfort, back to their normal activities and a little bit blurred vision initially, but then week by week and month by month as the eye heals, the vision continues to improve.