Corneal Transplant

Patients whose cornea has become cloudy because of disease may be able to regain useful vision with a corneal transplant (keratoplasty). A corneal transplant is the most successful of all tissue transplants that are available in the United States.

The corneal tissue needed for a transplant is usually readily available through an Eye Bank because of advances in Eye Banking Technology. All corneal tissue for transplant is tested thoroughly to make sure it is safe for transplantation.

Corneal transplant is for patients who have lost vision due to corneal disease or injury.

What to expect the day of surgery?

On the day of surgery you will arrive at Thomasville Surgery Center 20 to 30 minutes prior to your procedure. You will be checked in and given a sedative to help you relax. The anesthesia provider will prepare the eye by performing a muscle block for the surgical eye. An eyelid holder (speculum) will be placed in the eye to keep the eye open while the surgery takes place.

Your diseased cornea will be removed with an instrument called a trephine which is used to measure and cut the specific amount of cornea the doctor wants to remove. The donor cornea will also will be cut with a trephine to match what was used for your cornea.

The surgery is painless and done on an outpatient basis. The operation may take from one to two hours. You will remain at the center for a short recovery period after the procedure is finished. You will then be allowed to return home where you will be expected to relax for the rest of the day. You may experience some discomfort for a couple of days, but eye drops and pain medication can be used to minimize this discomfort.

As with most surgeries everyone heals differently, but most patients may resume normal activities within a few days. Lifting, bending and straining should be avoided for several weeks as the cornea heals. To help protect the eye while it heals you will be asked to wear a shield, glasses, or sunglasses.

The healing process may take a few months to a year. During this time you will continue to use eye drops as directed by your doctor.


Following a corneal transplant, some patients may experience a return of best vision within a few months, for others it may be as much as one year. As with any transplant there is always the risk of rejection. The risk of rejection of the tissue is rare, but it is very important that you contact your physician if signs of rejection occur. (Redness, pain, sensitivity to light or decrease in vision)

The rate of success for corneal transplant depends largely on the reason for having the procedure done. For example, corneal transplant for degeneration after a cataract surgery or keratoconus has a higher success rate than for those performed because of a chemical burn or a previous failed graft.