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Understanding Endothelial Keratoplasty

Endothelial keratoplasty is a type of corneal transplant. A cornea transplant is a sight-saving surgery where a damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea. Cornea transplants are the most common type of transplant surgeries performed in the United States, with nearly 46,000 performed every year

Your cornea is a clear, dome-shaped tissue that covers the front of your eye. This clear, top-covering of your eye helps you focus light and see clearly. If your cornea gets damaged through disease, injury, or infection, it can impact your vision. 

The expert ophthalmological surgeons at Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology have more than three decades of experience performing cornea transplants. Read on to learn more about this type of eye surgery.

Why would you need a cornea transplant?

Since the cornea is in the front of your eye, it can easily get scratched or damaged. Fortunately, most scratches, infections, or injuries to the cornea are minor and heal on their own, or with medicated eye drops. If you experience a deeper scratch or impactful damage, the result may be scarring of the cornea, which can cause vision problems. Additionally, previous eye surgery can leave scarring.

Certain eye diseases, such as keratoconus or Fuchs’ dystrophy, can cause damage to the cornea. In some cases, only part of the cornea is damaged, and therefore, only part of the cornea needs to be replaced. In other cases, the entire cornea needs to be removed because of damage.

What is endothelial keratoplasty?

The extent of damage to your cornea will determine the type of cornea transplant surgery your doctor will recommend. For example, if your full cornea is damaged, your doctor may recommend a full-thickness cornea transplant, where all the layers of your cornea are removed and replaced. A partial-thickness transplant replaces the outer layer and the middle layer of your cornea.

If only the innermost layer of your cornea, also called the endothelial layer, is damaged, then, fortunately, you only need to have that layer replaced. An endothelial keratoplasty procedure is when the inner layer of your cornea receives a donor transplant cornea and leaves the other two healthy layers intact.

With an endothelial keratoplasty, visual recovery time and downtime and restrictions are reduced compared with a full cornea replacement. Additionally, your vision changes are minimal.

If you’d like to learn more about endothelial keratoplasty or find out if you’re a good candidate for this procedure, call Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology in Beverly Hills, California for an appointment or request one online.

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