PATIENT EDUCATION
PATIENT EDUCATION/
Cornea

CORNEA

Save your Sight by acting at the Right time

According to World Health Organization, corneal blindness is the fourth leading cause of blindness in India. Treating corneal blindness is possible through cornea transplant. In this treatment, a healthy cornea is transplanted in place of a diseased cornea in entirety through (Penetrating Keratoplasty) or in part (Lamellar Keratoplasty). Since artificial corneas are not available, corneas have to be harvested only through eye donation.

The human cornea can be produced only through Eye donation. Though we have trained, highly qualified surgeons and hospital facilities to do the transplant, we do not have enough eye tissues available to treat the burden of corneal blindness of our country.

Approximately 11 lakh blind population of our country are waiting for corneal transplantation and about 25,000 new cases are being reported every year. One eye donation can give sight to two corneal blind persons.

Know Your Cornea
The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. It is responsible for more than 2/3rd of the eye’s focusing power. Unlike most tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas. When cornea becomes cloudy due to disease, injury, infection or malnutrition, vision is significantly lost or reduced.

Are You A Cornea Transplant Candidate?
Your doctor may suggest cornea transplant in the following circumstances:

  • Scarring from infections such as eye herpes, fungal or bacterial Keratitis.
  • Hereditary corneal diseases or dystrophies.
  • Thinning of cornea or irregular shape due to Keratoconus.
  • Chemical burns on the cornea.
  • Excessive swelling on the cornea.

Procedure for Cornea Transplant

  • Get registered after consultation with your cornea surgeon.
  • Wait for the donor cornea. The waiting period for a donor eye depends on the voluntary donation of the eye.

Sight after Transplant
The vision will improve for one year following the surgery. You will need glasses or contact lenses for vision correction. The curve of the transplanted cornea cannot match exactly the curve of your own cornea. Typically, prescription for glasses is given once all the stitches are removed. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses provide the best vision correction for corneal transplant patients due to irregularity of the cornea after the transplant.

Cornea Graft Rejection
Corneal transplants are performed routinely. In fact, of all tissue transplants, cornea transplant is most successful. But, at times exceptions happen. If the transplanted cornea is rejected by the body, following symptoms occur:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Decreased vision
  • Extreme sensitivity to light

Your body can reject the transplanted cornea as early as one month post-surgery and as late as five years after the cornea transplant. Rejection may be successfully reversed and vision regained following prompt diagnosis & medical therapy.

Most corneal transplants in India and even the world over are ‘full thickness’ corneal transplants. The diseased cornea is removed with all its layers and replaced by a similar or slightly larger sized, donor cornea also of ‘full’ thickness in the procedure of Cornea Transplant in India. However, in certain diseases, such as ‘Keratoconus’ or conical cornea or in superficial corneal scars, the innermost lining of the cornea, called the endothelium is intact and healthy and therefore need not be changed. This procedure is called Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty. As compared to a full thickness graft, it offeres a faster rehabilitation & reduced rate of rejection with improved graft survival. Endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK / DMEK) has brought a revolutionary change in the technique of corneal transplantation.

It is a highly refined technique that replaces just the endothelial layer of the cornea, allowing surgeon to target the specific cause of the patient's vision loss.
In this technique no sutures are given and hence recovery is faster and more comfortable, making this the procedure of choice in cases of fuch's dystrophy & corneal decompensation.