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A cornea transplant, or keratoplasty, replaces the clear front surface of the eye with one from a donor to improve or restore your vision and decrease pain.
At University of Maryland Eye Associates, cornea transplants are an outpatient procedure.
After your cornea replacement, you will use eye drops for the rest of your life to prevent rejection.
Because you don't need to match blood type with your donor, tissue for cornea transplants is usually readily available. However, you still face the same rejection risks as any other organ transplant.
Types of Cornea Transplant
University of Maryland Eye Associates cornea specialists offer partial-thickness transplants, which are safer and have shorter recovery times than full-thickness transplants.
The cornea has five layers. Until recently, all five layers had to be transplanted. Advanced technologies allow our cornea specialists to replace just the affected layers of the cornea with new tissue. The layers are:
- Epithelium – The cornea's outermost region blocks dust, water and bacteria and provides a smooth surface to absorb oxygen and nutrients.
- Bowman's layer – This clear tissue is directly below the epithelium and composed of strong layers of protein fibers called collagen.
- Stroma – Below that, this layer, which makes up most of the cornea's thickness, is mainly water and collagen. It gives the cornea its strength, elasticity and form.
- Descemet's membrane – Under the stroma, this thin but strong tissue is a barrier against infection and injuries.
- Endothelium – This thin, innermost layer keeps the cornea clear.
Depending on your condition, you may have one of these procedures:
- DSEK (Descemet's stripping endothelial keratoplasty) – a partial-thickness transplant for the inner layer of the cornea
- DMEK (Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty) – a partial-thickness transplant that uses a much thinner portion of donor tissue for the endothelium
- DALK (deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty) – a partial-thickness transplant of the stroma, or middle layer of the cornea
What to Expect During Cornea Transplant
At University of Maryland Medical Center, a cornea transplant is an outpatient procedure that takes less than two hours. You'll return home the same day and return the next day for follow-up.
Cornea Transplant Recovery
We'll work with you throughout your recovery.
We'll meet with you the day after your cornea replacement, and again in a week, two weeks and four weeks. After that, you'll visit every two months for the first year to make sure you heal properly.
It will take a few months before you notice an improvement in your eyesight.
Make an Appointment
Make an appointment with one of our cornea specialists, please call 667-214-1111.