A corneal transplant is a surgery to replace the cornea or the clear layer of tissue covering the front of the eye. Its purpose is to refract or bend light rays as they enter the eye and allow them to focus on the retina or the back of the eye. In cases where the cornea has become clouded as a result of disease, swelling, scarring, infection, or traumatic injury, a corneal transplant is sometimes necessary to restore functional vision. During this procedure, the surgeon carefully removes the central corneal tissue and replaces it with a precisely shaped replica of donor tissue, also known as the graft.
In most cases, vision returns very gradually. During the healing process, which can vary from one patient to the next, the surgeon will continually monitor the surface of the eye. Over a period of time, the surgeon will remove sutures. After most or all of the sutures have been removed not all patients need correction but most will need some corrective lenses via glasses or contact lenses.
||This picture shows an eye after a corneal transplant. All of the sutures are still in place.|
While both gas permeable and soft lenses are used over the graft, many factors make up the decision process. Contact lens usage after a transplant has been very successful and has been used in this manner for the past thirty years. Fitting of the graft requires unique expertise and good communication with the surgeon. Continued monitoring of the lens to cornea relationship is ongoing and it is extremely important to follow all instructions given by the contact lens fitter. This is generally a very rewarding experience visually for both the patient and the fitter.