By Dr. Sanjeev Verma
Cornea Transplant (Keratoplasty)

A significant number of cases of visual impairment and gross degree of loss of vison occur due to diseases of cornea such as corneal ulcer, ocular injury, keratomalacia and post-operative bullous keratopathy (to name a few). The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped surface of your eye. It's where the light enters your eye and is a large part of your eye's ability to see clearly. A Cornea Transplant orKeratoplasty is the procedure in which patient’s diseased cornea is replaced by the donor’s healthy clear cornea. A cornea transplant can restore vision, reduce pain, and improve the appearance of a damaged or diseased cornea.Most cornea transplant procedures are successful. But cornea transplant may carry a small risk of complications, such as rejection of the donor cornea.

A number of conditions can be treated with a cornea transplant, including a cornea that bulges outward (keratoconus), Fuchs' dystrophy (a hereditary condition), thinning or tearing of the cornea, cornea scarring (caused by infection or injury), swelling of the cornea, corneal ulcers not responding to medical treatment or complications caused by previous eye surgery.

Corneas used in cornea transplants come from people who have died. Corneas are not used from people who died from unknown causes or from donors who had certain conditions, such as diseases that can spread, previous eye surgery or eye disease.Unlike with organs such as livers and kidneys, people needing cornea transplants don't require tissue matching. In India, there is a need of around 2 lakh corneas per year for transplantation to clear the back log of corneal blindness.

A cornea transplant surgeon removes either the entire thickness or partial thickness of the diseased cornea depending on the indication and replaces it with healthy donor tissue.In some cases, if people aren't eligible for a cornea transplant from a donor cornea, they might receive an artificial cornea (keratoprosthesis).

Eyedrops and, sometimes, oral medications immediately after cornea transplant and during recovery will help control infection, swelling and pain. Eyedrops to suppress the immune system help prevent cornea rejections.Wear eye protection. Eye shields or glasses protect your eye as it heals. Depending on the type of transplant, you might have to lie on your back for a while after surgery to help the new tissue stay in place.Don't rub or press on the eye. For the rest of your life, you'll need to take extra precautions to avoid harming your eye.Most people who receive a cornea transplant will have their vision at least partially restored.