What is Corneal Transplant?
The cornea is the dome-shaped clear structure at the front of the eye. It plays a critical role and along with the eyelid, eye socket, the sclera and tears protect the eye from germs, dust, and other foreign particles. It also permits light to enter the eye.
The cornea is entirely composed of a particular type of collagen. It does not contain blood vessels, but any damage to the cornea can be very painful due to the presence of nerve endings. Though the corneal tissue can heal minor injuries quickly, deep injuries are prone to cause permanent damage to vision. A corneal transplant, also known as keratoplasty, helps to restore or dramatically reset the vision in an injured or damaged cornea. Through this surgical procedure, the damaged or diseased tissue is replaced with healthy corneal tissue which is taken from a donor who is deceased recently.
Corneal transplant or corneal grafting involves the replacement of the damaged or diseased cornea with donated corneal tissue – the graft, and may be of two types:
Since many people register and donate their corneas to be used after their death, the waiting period for a corneal transplant is not as long as the waiting period for other organ transplants. The tissue comes from an eye bank and is tested to make sure it is safe for the recipient before it is transplanted. If not, then the recipient is considered for an artificial corneal transplant. Though the outcome of donor tissues is best for the majority of the people undergoing the surgery, artificial transplant proves to be more successful in cases of severe ocular surface disease or in cases where there has been more than one failed graft previously.
Indications for Corneal Transplant
Any injury to the cornea leads to swelling or scarring as a result of which it may lose its smoothness and clarity. The scars, swelling or the irregular shape causes the cornea to distort or scatter light thus leading to a glared or blurred vision. A corneal transplant is considered only when the cornea is severely damaged, and vision cannot be satisfactorily corrected with contact lenses or eyeglasses and medicines or special contact lenses are unable to relieve the painful swelling and heal the cornea. The procedure helps to repair or dramatically restore vision in eyes which have damaged or diseased cornea.
Some of these conditions may lead to the clouding of the cornea while others may alter the natural curvature of the cornea reducing the vision quality.
People with some specific medical conditions are not eligible for eye donation. The following lists some general contraindications in a donor’s medical history that limits or prevents donation of the cornea:
Most other types of cancer are accepted for a donation of the eye.
Glaucoma and cataracts are accepted for eye donation.