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If your cornea has suffered significant damage and become swollen, clouded, irregular, or scarred due to keratoconus, injury, infection, or earlier eye surgery, a full-thickness corneal transplant may be required. In this surgery, the entirety of your cornea is removed and replaced with a donor cornea, restoring proper function and vision to your eye.

What is the cornea?

The cornea is a piece of clear tissue over your eye that lets light in, acting as a sort of “window” to your retina. It must be clear, free of abrasions and scarring, and healthy to maintain clear vision.

However, it has no blood vessels – which means your body cannot easily repair the damage. Corneas can be damaged by:

  • Keratoconus (a condition in which your cornea begins to bulge and distort your vision)
  • Fuch’s dystrophy (a condition where fluid builds up on the front of your eye, causing your cornea to swell and thicken)
  • Scarring from disease or trauma
  • Damage from another eye surgery

Why undergo a full-thickness corneal transplant?

A damaged or malfunctioning cornea causes severe issues, including:

  • Blurred or impaired vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Redness
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eye pain and headaches

If your cornea is damaged, the only way to achieve long-term relief is through a transplant, which is why corneal transplants have become so widespread. If the damage is minor or restricted to only a specific part of the cornea, you may only need a partial corneal transplant.

Woman rubbing her eyes, with black hair and a black tank top.

Preparing for a full-thickness corneal transplant

The following steps are done to prepare for a corneal transplant:

  • Undergo a comprehensive eye exam to identify any possible conditions that could cause complications after the surgery
  • If you have any other existing eye conditions, such as an infection or dry eye, you will need to get this treated before undergoing any form of corneal transplant
  • Your doctor will take detailed measurements of your eye to determine the size of donor cornea you will need
  • Review all medication and dietary supplements you are currently taking, and stop taking any that could impact the healing process

What is the recovery process after a full-thickness corneal transplant?

Once your transplant is complete, you will need to wear an eye patch for the first day. Once the patch is removed, you will be required to wear a clear eye shield or glasses to protect your eyes during the healing process, which can take two to three weeks. Once the initial healing is complete, you can resume your usual activities. Full results appear gradually as the donor cornea integrates into your eye and begins to function normally. It may take up to a year before you achieve maximum vision recovery, though many people achieve optimal results within a matter of months.

The Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology difference

  • Our team of renowned ophthalmologists has over three decades of experience in providing a wide range of eye treatments and surgeries – with thousands of positive results.
  • We stay ahead of the curve in scientific research and development, offering cutting-edge treatments to our patients and offering only the latest, most effective options.
  • Our personalized, patient-centric approach means you will get one-on-one consultation, treatment, and follow-up with a top-level ophthalmologist who is dedicated to helping YOU maintain clear vision and excellent eye health.

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