As most know, the cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It’s a clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. The main function of the cornea is to allow light to pass into the eye, so that it can reach the lens and then the retina. As a result, the cornea must be transparent. A second function is to act like a camera lens and help focus light.
Strength of the cornea depends on a number of factors, including the health of the conjunctiva and of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is the tissue which covers the front part of the eyeball (but not the cornea) and lines the back of the eyelids. Both the conjunctiva and the eyelids contain glands which make tear fluid. Tear fluid is an essential part of the systems which maintain the health of the cornea.
Diseases of the cornea can cause distorted vision or even loss of vision. Keeping the cornea healthy is a vital part in protecting your vision and the health of your eyes.
Corneal Transplant: This procedure involves replacing the eye’s corner with a clear corneal donor tissue. On the day of surgery, the patient will be given medication for relaxation and anesthetic eye drops that keep the patient comfortable during the surgery. To prevent infection, the skin surrounding the eye is cleaned, and strict precautions are observed to maintain a sterile environment.
An eyelid holder will be used to help keep the eyelids from blinking during the procedure. The surgeon uses a special instrument called a trephine. The donor corner will be trimmed to a matching size replacing the existing cornea and secured in place with fine sutures. The eye will then be patched. The procedure itself is painless and takes approximately 60-90 minutes to complete. The patient is then taken to the recovery area, and after a brief stay, returns home with a designated driver to rest for the day. Discomfort may occur for a few days. The doctor will prescribe eye drops and pain medication to help minimize and discomfort.
Most patients resume activities within a few days though the healing process will be ongoing over the next few months.