Cornea Transplant Surgery | What, Risks, Success Rate, Costs & More

The cornea is a dome-shaped, transparent layer at the front of the eye. It helps focus light that enters the eye and acts as a barrier against germs and dirt. To ensure proper vision, the cornea must be clear, smooth, and healthy. When the cornea is swollen, damaged, weak, or infected by a virus or bacteria, the vision becomes blurred, or you see a glare. While most corneal problems can be healed or repaired, the ophthalmologist may recommend a transplant when the diseased cornea cannot all treatments have failed. Read on to learn more about corneal transplant surgery.

What Is Corneal Transplant Surgery?

As the name suggests, corneal transplant surgery replaces the diseased organ with a healthy cornea from a human donor. The procedure is also called corneal grafting or keratoplasty. The physician may recommend a transplant for patients with congenital diseases like corneal dystrophy, keratoconus, dry eyes, keratitis, corneal ulcers, corneal damage caused by earlier eye surgery, or damage to the cornea due to an injury, inflammation, or infections like ocular herpes, trachoma, etc.

Corneal transplant surgery is not fairly common in India because of a lack of eye donors. However, the country is considered one of the best destinations for corneal transplant surgery because of its pool of skilled ophthalmologists and advanced eye hospitals.

What Happens During a Corneal Transplant Surgery?

There are three types of corneal transplant surgery procedures, penetrating keratoplasty, endothelial keratoplasty, and anterior lamellar keratoplasty. If patients are not eligible for a transplant through a human donor, the physician may suggest an artificial cornea transplant, also called keratoprosthesis.

Penetrating Keratoplasty

This procedure involves cutting through the entire thickness of the diseased or damaged cornea to remove a small disk of the corneal tissue. The physician then cuts the donor cornea to ensure it’s the same size as the removed tissue before placing it on the opening. The healthy cornea is then stitched to ensure it stays in place. The stitches are then removed during a later visit.

Endothelial Keratoplasty

This procedure involves removing the diseased endothelial tissue and replacing it with healthy donor tissue. There are two types of Endothelial Keratoplasty procedures, DSEK or Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty and DMEK or Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty.

Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty

This procedure involves removing the diseased tissue from the front corneal layers and replacing it with healthy donor tissue. There are two types of lamellar keratoplasty, depending on the depth of the corneal tissue damage: Superficial Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty or SALK and Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty.

cornea transplant surgery

How Much Does a Corneal Transplant Surgery Cost?

The cost of a corneal transplant surgery ranges from INR 1,00,000 to INR 2,00,000, depending on the location of the eye hospital, its reputation, facilities and advanced techniques used by the hospital, and the skills of the physician performing the surgery.

What Are Some Common Corneal Transplant Surgery Risks?

While corneal transplant surgery is relatively safe, it does carry some severe complications, including eye infection, glaucoma, bleeding, swelling, and the body rejecting the donor cornea. If the latter happens, patients may experience sensitivity to light, redness in the eyes, eye pain, and even loss of vision. In such cases, they must contact the eye hospital immediately.

The success rate of corneal transplant surgery varies from around 70% to 80%, depending on the aftercare routine followed by the patient and transplant rejection.

Follow-Up Care After Corneal Transplant Surgery

The surgery is done one eye at a time and lasts for around 2 hours. You will be provided with complete instructions about precautions after the surgery. This includes taking eye drops to prevent infection and swelling and medicines to suppress immunity and prevent chances of corneal rejection.

You must wear glasses or shields to protect your eyes from dust and injury. The doctor may also suggest lying on your back to ensure the replaced tissues stay in place. You must also stay away from heavy physical activities, including exercises. And don’t rub or press the eyes. You must not miss your regular checkups as well.

The doctor may also recommend post-op procedures to correct astigmatism and other vision problems like nearsightedness and farsightedness. You may also have to wear glasses or contact lenses or undergo laser eye surgery.

How To Choose the Best Eye Hospital for Corneal Transplant Surgery?

When choosing a hospital for cornea transplant surgery, look for hospitals using advanced techniques like robotic or computer-assisted procedures. Evaluate the surgeon’s expertise, experience, success rate, and patient reviews. Visit Calwin Hospitals if you are looking for the best eye hospitals in Nagercoil.

We are a multispecialty hospital in Nagercoil with dedicated cardiology, pulmonology, and ophthalmology departments.


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