Many patients are afraid of “corneal grafts,” but there is no need to worry; in fact, patients get worried because they are unaware of basic corneal graft facts. To understand corneal graft better, you must first know what the cornea is.
About the Cornea
The cornea is that transparent part of the eye that is located right in the front. The normal cornea is clear and transparent, allowing light rays to pass into the eye and focus on the retina, a photosensitive tissue comprising rods and cones located at the back of the eye.
If the cornea is damaged or deformed because of certain eye disorders or injuries, light rays cannot find their way to the retina. The patient, therefore, cannot see clearly and the vision is distorted.
Corneal Grafts Reasons
Ophthalmologists and eye care specialists usually try to correct corneal defects with medication, contact lenses, and spectacles. If none of these methods work, they might suggest a corneal graft as the only way to improve vision, repair corneal damage, or alleviate pain.
Corneal Graft Procedure
A corneal graft is a surgical procedure during which the eye surgeon removes the defective cornea and replaces it with a normal cornea obtained from a donor. Before the new cornea is transplanted inside your eye, it will be thoroughly tested for health and suitability. Healthy corneas are stored in eye banks before being sent to hospitals that conduct corneal grafting procedures.
Although a local anesthetic is sufficient to perform a corneal graft, eye surgeons usually recommend general anesthesia. The entire procedure lasts about an hour, and the patient is placed under observation in the hospital for around 3 – 4 days.
You may have to protect your eyes with eye shields or glasses for a few days after the surgery. You may also feel as if there is a foreign body inside your eye, but you won’t feel any pain. You may also experience an increase in production of tears.
Your surgeon will prescribe eye drops, which you will have to use for several months to prevent your eyes from rejecting the corneal graft and also to prevent infection. You will also be advised to avoid activities such as lifting heavy objects, swimming, and so on.
You can get back to your office or desk job within two to three weeks after surgery; however, you should wait at least four to six weeks before getting back to a strenuous job.
There isn’t a single surgical procedure that is free from risks, and it is the same with corneal grafts. Since it is a surgical procedure, patients who undergo it are primarily at risk of infection; besides, your eyes could reject the new cornea. In case of such complications, you might be required to follow the prescribed treatment plan or even get ready to undergo another surgery.
Fortunately, major complications hardly occur, but patients may experience minor complications such as fluid leakage from between the stitches and increased eye pressure that needs to be treated with glaucoma drops.