Corneal Transplant Surgery

When keratoconus progresses to end stage, corneal transplant surgery is the only way to restore sight. The central area is removed from the cornea of a keratoconic eye and a central “button” from the donor eye is then sewn on in its place. In large part due to the fact that keratoconus is non-inflammatory, corneal transplant surgery is very successful for treatment of end stage keratoconus. Even when successful, however, this surgery is not a cure. Post-surgical care is continuous and may be needed forever to maintain the health of the transplant and avoid rejection. If the transplanted cornea comes out to be irregular, contact lenses may still be necessary for clear vision. This poses a whole new set of fitting difficulties but results can be very good.


The question is: when is surgery necessary? As far as I am concerned, as long as the central cornea is clear, contact lenses should be used, not surgery. This is even if the keratoconus is severe, with extreme thinning and bulging of the cornea. Some people experience scaring of the central cornea. If the scaring is dense and centrally located, contacts cannot improve the vision because the central cornea is no longer transparent. This is the only time that surgery should, be considered. It is a treatment of last resort.

Posted In: Keratoconus

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