Monday, January 30

Corneal transplants

Replacement parts for the eyes must have seemed unthinkable in the past. Currently, if a cataract clouds the inner lens of the eye, a routine procedure to replace it with an artificial lens restores vision.

However, what happens if the outer lens of the eye (the cornea) is injured or infected? You can also have that replaced. "It's not as prevalent as cataract surgery, but around age 50, many people develop corneal disorders and may need a corneal transplant."

According to the Eye Bank Association of America, over 49,000 corneal transplants happened in the United States in 2021.


What exactly is the cornea?
The cornea is a clear tissue dome that covers the iris and pupil in the front of each eye. It acts as a windscreen to protect the delicate eye mechanism behind it and focuses light onto the retina, which sends impulses that the brain turns into images (your vision).

To focus and view well, a windscreen and camera lens are required. However, numerous things can go wrong within the cornea's five layers of tissue. This can make it difficult to see and hinder your ability to read, drive, work, and complete other daily tasks.

How does a corneal injury develop?
It may result from a variety of factors, including:

Accidental injuries, such as a fall: "Falls are a leading cause of patients presenting with acute eye damage." The cornea might be easily destroyed if it is poked.
Vision loss can be caused by serious corneal infections or genetic diseases such as Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy.
What treatment options exist for corneal damage?
Treatment for a cornea depends on the nature of the problem and the extent of the damage. It is a methodical technique. Occasionally, using specialized contact lenses or taking drugs helps reduce corneal swelling or scarring.

When corneal damage cannot be repaired, surgeons can replace one or a few layers (a partial-thickness transplant) or the entire cornea (a full-thickness transplant) (a full-thickness transplant).

The great majority of corneal transplants are obtained and processed by eye banks across the United States. In certain circumstances, such as when repeated transplants fail, an artificial cornea may be used. After corneal surgery, recovery can take up to a year.

How long do corneal transplants last?
There is always a chance that the recipient's body will reject a corneal transplant. It occurs approximately one-third of the time with full-thickness transplants. It occurs less frequently with transplants of partial thickness. Lifelong use of eye drops is needed to prevent rejection.

Other people may need a second transplant within five to ten years because of attacks from their immune systems, intolerance to eye drops, or problems deeper in their bodies.

Preventive eye care can aid in corneal preservation.
Regular, comprehensive eye exams are necessary to ensure the health of your corneas and the rest of your eyes.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises a thorough (dilated) eye examination.

At age 40
Every two to four years for those between the ages of 40 and 54
Every one to three years for those between the ages of 55 and 64
Every one to two years for those 65 and above

If you have underlying illnesses that raise your risk for eye diseases, such as diabetes or a family history of corneal disease, you will need more frequent eye exams.

Talk to an eye doctor if you have problems with your vision, such as pain, redness, blurry vision even with new glasses, or worsening eyesight.

Fortunately, advances in surgical alternatives offer hope to those who have suffered corneal injuries.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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