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Cornea Transplant

Recovery From a Cornea Transplant

The risks of complications vary depending on how many layers of the cornea are transplanted. Your body is less likely to reject the transplant if only the outer layers are used, compared to using all the layers or the deepest layer. Rejection happens in about 20% of cases overall.

Other problems can include:

  • Bleeding (rare)
  • Scarring
  • Cataract formation, retinal detachment, and damage to other parts of the eye
  • Leakage of fluid from the transplant incision
  • Infection (rare)
  • Vision problems. Full thickness transplants can heal with large amounts of astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness, requiring thick lenses on eyeglasses or contact lenses.

In addition, some ailments that damage people's original cornea can also harm the new cornea. For example, there is the possibility of recurrence of herpes simplex infection in the transplant.

The cornea tends to heal slowly. To help protect your eye in the days after the surgery, your doctor may ask you to wear a protective shield over it.

You will need to use eyedrops for several months after the transplant. The stitches may remain in your eye for months or years. Your eye doctor can remove them in a simple procedure during an office visit.

Your vision may improve slowly after the surgery. It's important to avoid any possible trauma to your eye, such as from sports. This can damage your new cornea. You should report new irritation or any decrease in vision to your corneal surgeon. These may be signs that your body is rejecting the donor cornea.

Rejection may even occur years after the surgery. If you notice any of these signs that last for more than six hours, call your eye doctor promptly. The doctor can give you medicine that can help prevent as well as treat rejection.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on June 11, 2012

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