A cornea transplant, which replaces damaged tissue on the eye's clear surface, also is referred to as a corneal transplant, keratoplasty, penetrating keratoplasty (PK) or corneal graft.
A cornea transplant replaces central corneal tissue, damaged due to disease or injury, with healthy corneal tissue donated from an eye bank. An unhealthy cornea affects your vision by scattering light and causing blurred or distorted vision. In some cases, a cornea can be so damaged or scared that a transplant is necessary to restore your functional vision.
Some of the reasons for a corneal transplant include diseases and eye injuries:
- Scarring from infections, such as eye herpes or fungal keratitis.
- Eye diseases such as keratoconus.
- Hereditary factors or corneal failure from previous surgeries.
- Thinning of the cornea and irregular shape (such as with keratoconus).
- Complications from LASIK.
- Chemical burns on the cornea or damage from an eye injury.
- Excessive swelling (edema) on the cornea.
Your vision will continue to improve up to one year following your surgery, but glasses or contact lenses are needed after surgery because the curve of the corneal transplant cannot match exactly the curve of your natural cornea. After healing is complete and it is common for people to have difficulty seeing. Specially designed Gas Permeable (RGP or GP) contact lenses often provide the best vision correction and restore sight patients that have had a corneal transplant, due to the irregularity of the cornea after transplant.
Regardless of whether you need corrective eyewear, it's wise to wear safety glasses after a cornea transplant to protect your eyes from injury.