Today, advancements in corneal transplants give patients more options than ever before. New treatments are making the procedure safer for patients and enabling more and more people to reobtain healthy vision faster. But what are each of these methods? And why might one require a corneal transplant? We're here to explain.
Why are corneal transplants performed?
Corneal transplants are performed for a variety of reasons, related to various conditions that are suffered by patients. Often, the goal of the procedure is optical, intended to improve the vision of patients. It can also be a reconstructive procedure to correct the anatomy of the eye following a perforation or other disruption. Finally, the transplant could be performed for therapeutic reasons, to remove unhealthy or infected tissue to ensure that inflammation does not spread.
Penetrating keratoplasty(PKP) is the most commonly-performed transplantation procedure in the world, and involves the complete replacement of a damaged cornea with a healthy one from a donor. The goal of the procedure is to improve patients' visual activity. The procedure remains relatively common for some extreme cases, but newer methods of corneal transplant are becoming more popular; alternatives such as DMEK and DALK offer less chance for complications during surgery, faster recovery times, and less chance for graft rejection, making them a better choice in many cases.
Partial-thickness corneal transplantation
Certain diseases such as Fuchs corneal dystrophy affect only the innermost of the many layers of the cornea. In such cases, a complicated, technically challenging procedure called DMEK or DSEK can be performed, replacing only the innermost layer of the cornea. Because this procedure involves the insertion of less foreign tissue than a complete corneal transplant, fewer stitches are used and there is a lower chance of graft rejection. Patients' recovery time is often very fast when they undergo this procedure.
Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty
Whereas DMEK replaces only the innermost layer of the cornea, deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK) preserves the two innermost layers as the rest of the cornea is replaced. This technically skilled procedure is suitable for some patients with issues including corneal scarring and keratoconus. Like DMEK, this procedure offers a lower chance of rejection and can thus be safer for patients.
Because there are so many reasons for which corneal transplants may be performed, and due to the variety of treatment options available today, it can be difficult to understand the procedure. If you have any questions about the procedure, or about anything else related to your optical health, contact Silk Vision & Surgical Center.