While corneal transplants may not get the news coverage that large organ transplants receive, some 40,000 are performed each year across the United States.
Corneal transplantations are restoring sight for many who years earlier may have been blinded permanently by corneal injury or disease.
A corneal transplant isn’t a life-saving surgery, but it certainly improves the quality of your life.
The surgery takes about an hour and in most cases is done on an outpatient basis at hospital surgical centers, according to Dr. Steven Sicher, a corneal specialist at Illinois Eye Center in Peoria. Sicher, who does the highest percentage of the corneal transplants in the area, performs about 40 each year.
“There are some 2.5 million cataract surgeries but only about 40,000 corneal transplantations each year in the United States.
Corneal transplants have been done with success in the United States since the 1950s.
Corneas need to be clear and have a smooth curve,” the corneal specialist said.
During the transplant procedure, the surgeon removes the central portion of the cloudy cornea and replaces it with a clear one.
The surgeon places the new cornea in the opening and sews it in place with the aid of a microscope. Anywhere from 24 to 32 hair-thin stitches are used.
“The stitches may remain for six months to two years before they are removed.
After the surgery, the patient is given medicated eye drops to fight infection and prevent rejection.
Some rejection occurs in about one of 10 cases,rrejection is uncommon, but it can occur at any time, even 20 years after the transplant. Ninety percent of rejections, however, occur in the first year.