When to Consider a Corneal Transplant

Did you know that the cornea is responsible for 65-75% of your eye’s focusing power? As a result, any problem with your cornea has a serious impact on your vision.

Though VIP Laser Eye Center starts your treatment with the most appropriate nonsurgical options, your corneal condition may progress to a stage where the next option is a corneal transplant.

When you reach that crossroad, you can count on the exceptional skill and experience of our corneal transplant specialists. We explain the procedure and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Many variables factor into your decision, such as your diagnosis, symptoms, eye health, and general health, but deciding about a transplant begins with the following three criteria:

1. Your nonsurgical treatment stopped working

It may be time to consider a corneal transplant when changes in your vision and symptoms like eye pain stop getting better or fail to improve with conservative therapies.

The first line of treatment for conditions that cause corneal damage typically involves such options as eyeglasses, contacts (including specialized contacts), medicated eyedrops and creams, and in some cases, oral medications.

When you exhaust all the possible nonsurgical treatments and you still have vision problems or pain, the next step may be a transplant.

2. Your corneal condition qualifies

Here’s a rundown of the most common problems that qualify for a corneal transplant:

Keratoconus

Keratoconus occurs when the cornea starts to thin out. As a result, the middle part of the cornea bulges outward, forming a cone-like shape that disrupts your vision.

Unlike many eye conditions associated with aging, keratoconus usually begins in teens and young adults. The condition gets progressively worse for 10-20 years and then it slows down and stops. The rate at which keratoconus progresses is different for each person.

If you get early treatment with a procedure called collagen cross-linking, we can stop the progressive thinning and prevent further corneal damage. But you may need to consider a corneal transplant if keratoconus reaches an advanced stage or causes scarring.

Fuchs’ dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a corneal disease that develops when endothelial cells die. These cells normally keep the cornea clear by removing excess fluids. When they die, fluids build up. As a result, the cornea thickens and scarring develops.

Scarring or permanent damage

The most common causes of corneal scarring and permanent damage to the cornea include infections and traumatic injuries. Corneal inflammation, called keratitis, frequently occurs due to an eye injury, dry eyes, overexposure to ultraviolet light, or a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.

People who wear contact lenses have a higher risk of developing keratitis. Wearing your contacts longer than recommended or not sticking with the prescribed cleaning regimen allows microbes to grow and cause an infection.

Damage from earlier eye surgery

Though it’s not common, you may suffer corneal damage from eye surgery for another condition. For example, if you have an unusually thin layer of endothelial cells in the cornea, cataract surgery may remove enough of the cells to cause the same type of fluid buildup as Fuchs’ dystrophy.

3. You don’t have a contraindication

A contraindication is a medical condition that prevents you from receiving a specific treatment or having a procedure. When it comes to a corneal transplant, very few roadblocks stand in your way.

But we may advise against a transplant if you have a high risk of rejecting the transplanted corneal tissues. Possible contraindications include glaucoma, interstitial keratitis, an ongoing infection, and corneal swelling associated with cataract surgery.

If you want to explore how corneal transplantation can improve your vision, don’t wait to call us to schedule an eye evaluation. Our offices are located in Palm Beach Gardens, Stuart, and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

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