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The cornea is the clear, rounded dome on the surface of the eye structure. The cornea can suffer damage by infection, trauma, or disease. A partial-thickness corneal transplant is an advanced surgical procedure that replaces the innermost portion of the structure with healthy corneal tissue.

DSAEK surgery for corneal damage

DSAEK stands for a technical term, “Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty.” The endothelium of the eye is just one of the layers of the cornea.

The three layers are called the epithelium (surface), the stroma (the main body of the cornea, made of fibrous proteins), and the endothelium (a single layer of cells that coats the underside of the cornea.) 

The endothelium is a fragile structure that can be damaged by glaucoma, cataract surgery, trauma, or eye diseases such as Fuchs’ dystrophy. These cells serve a critical role in eye health, as they provide nutrients to the cells of the stroma and ensure the correct quantity of fluids enter the cornea to maintain health and thickness. Unfortunately, these cells do not regenerate if damaged. If too many of these delicate cells are lost, the cornea will not function correctly, become thinner, and affect vision. 

Advanced corneal transplant surgery – DSAEK procedure

Corneal transplant surgery was first performed over 100 years ago, but the technology and techniques of repairing damaged corneal tissue have radically advanced, reaching new levels with the development of DSAEK. This state-of-the-art procedure, performed by our acclaimed, board-certified eye surgeons, involves placing a small incision on the side of the cornea. The damaged cell layer is removed from the back of the cornea, leaving 95 percent of the corneal structure intact. A “donor disk,” is placed inside the eye through the incision, and moved into place with an air bubble.

Woman in yellow sweater, smiling hafter receiving DSAEK treatment.

What is the recovery?

The surgery requires only about 30 minutes to complete. Following your procedure, your eye will be protected with a patch. The recovery involves very little discomfort, requiring only over the counter painkillers if any. You will be required to lie on your back with your head facing upwards to the ceiling for the first 24 hours. You will have a follow-up appointment the day after your surgery to ensure the donor disc has remained in the correct position.

Vision restoration with DSAEK

Damage to the cornea may indicate the need for DSAEK surgery for those who have impaired vision due to:

  • Endothelial dysfunction (failure of the cell lining of the cornea)
  • Corneal edema (fluid buildup within the eye, swelling the cornea)
  • Fuch’s dystrophy (the inner portion of the cornea, or stroma, thickens and becomes cloudy)
  • Bullous keratopathy (swelling of the cornea leading to the formation of blisters on the surface)
  • Decreased visual acuity
  • Edematous cornea (inflammation of the cornea)
  • Failed grafts (a cornea transplant that fails may be the result of endothelial cell dysfunction)
  • Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome (swelling of the cornea)

Why choose Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology for DSAEK?

When under the care of our board-certified ophthalmologists at Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology, you can be confident that leaders in the field are performing your surgery. We have the longest-established practice in Beverly Hills, and our team of eye surgeons is among the finest in the nation. If you are facing the prospect of eye surgery, you want to ensure that you have access to the most advanced surgeries for corneal repair. Your journey to vision correction and healthy eyes matters to us, and we focus on providing an extraordinary level of patient care.

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