Cornea Transplantation

About Corneal transplantation:

Cornea transplantation is a surgery used to replace a damaged cornea with a healthy, donated one. Some surgeries remove the entire cornea, while others only remove a few parts. The surgery is used to treat a few different corneal diseases. It is often the best way to treat infection and save sight. In most cases, the surgery is very successful.

Why is the corneal transplant done?

The cornea may be severely damaged by:

  • Keratoconus (Forward bulging of the cornea)
  • Cornea infection or injuries
  • Corneal ulcers (Keratitis)


Picture Courtesy: Surgery Encyclopedia

About the Surgery:

The surgery usually is finished within 1 hour. An anesthetic will be used so patients don’t feel any pain.  In corneal transplant,

  1. The eye is held open with a speculum (A)
  2. A laser is used to make an initial cut in the existing cornea (B)
  3. The surgeon uses scissors to remove it (C)
  4. Donor cornea is placed (D)
  5. It is stitched with very fine sutures (E)
Types of Corneal Transplantation Surgery

There are two main types of corneal transplantation surgery:

  1. Therapeutic Keratoplasty: for corneal ulcers
  2. Penetrating Keratoplasty: for keratoconus

Risks & Complications

Cornea transplant is a serious surgery. Even though it is safe, it does have a low risk of complications, including:

  • Eye infection
  • Glaucoma
  • Problems with the stitches
  • Rejection of the donor cornea

Rejection occurs when patient’s body attacks the donor’s cornea tissue. Symptoms of rejection include red eye, sensitivity to light, cloudy vision, and eye pain. Tell an eye doctor right away if you notice these symptoms. With early detection, it can be treated with steroid eye drops.

Preparing for Surgery:

Before Surgery:

  1. Get an eye exam from an eye doctor to make sure the surgery is safe
  2. Inform the doctor of all the medicines and treatments you are taking

After the Surgery:

  1. Follow the doctor and counsellor’s instructions closely. Take eye drops or medicines as advised.
  2. Protect your eye from injury
  3. Return for follow-ups with an eye doctor
  4. Avoid bathing in unclean river water


The results will depend on what damaged your cornea. Most people will have at least some vision improvement. It is important that you come for follow-ups to make sure that your eye is healing properly.