A corneal transplant performed on a patient is often a result of an eye disease or eye injury to restore vision. Post a corneal transplant, patients often require specialty contact lenses to correct vision to achieve a clear and comfortable vision.
Two Common forms of Cornea Transplants
Most corneal transplants that are performed come in two forms: Penetrating keratoplasty (PK) and Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK).
- Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK): A corneal transplant of the full thickness of the cornea.
- Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK): A corneal transplant where only the back layer of the cornea is corrected.
What Leads to a Cornea Transplant?
Surprisingly, corneal transplants or even partial cornea transplants are performed every year for numerous reasons. Eye diseases that are left unmanaged or uncorrected, even cataracts, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration, may require a corneal transplant in severe cases. Often, a corneal dystrophy or corneal degeneration may demand a cornea transplant overtime. In general, any diseased cornea can lead to blindness without proper care from an eye doctor.
A semi-rare disease called keratoconus often requires some form of cornea surgery to stabilize the condition, such as corneal collagen crosslinking or a cornea transplant. Keratoconus is when the anterior cornea things and protrudes, which distorts the shape of the cornea. Often, patients with advanced keratoconus will see haloes suffer from eye pain, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light and their surrounds. While not fully understood, keratoconus is likely due to both genetic and environmental factors.
Corneal Transplants Treatment & Recovery
Although many people successfully under a cornea transplant, the eye isn’t cured of the disease entirely. Post cornea transplant patients will notice dramatic improvements in their eyes, yet their vision will still need specialty contact lenses for correction.
Recovery from a cornea transplant can last over a year since the eye has to get used to the new cornea, and since this adjustment is unpredictable, nearsightedness or astigmatism are common refractive errors. Often eye doctors will prescribe eyeglasses during this in-between period to help one’s vision, and even after the eye has fully healed, prescription glasses may still be required.
Scleral Lenses & Post-Corneal Transplant Surgery
However, cornea transplants also tend to result in irregular corneas as the transplant can’t adapt fully to the eye. All this means is that your eye doctor may recommend rigid gas permeable lenses or RGP’s, hybrid contact lenses or scleral lenses to provide you with clear vision and comfort without the need of any further surgery.
Scleral lenses are often the optimal choice as they provide the lens is designed to vault over the cornea entirely. Even after a corneal transplant, the cornea may still be considered irregular & diseased. Scleral lenses allow one’s cornea to remain hydrated, provide clear vision, and avoid any risk of corneal scarring. Other options are possible, yet scleral lenses make for a safe alternative that won’t negatively affect the cornea, and in many cases, can be covered by medical insurance.