The cornea is located in the front of the eye and covers the iris, which is what gives the eye its color. As light passes into the eye, it goes through the cornea first. Next, it passes through the pupil and then the lens.
If the cornea becomes damaged, light will not pass through it as it should and eyesight will diminish. To restore the person’s sight, a cornea transplant may be needed.
There are a number of conditions that could cause the cornea to be so significantly damaged that it loses its function. If it becomes scratched because of an injury or an infection, it may need to be replaced. Other causes include thinning, clouding or swelling of the cornea, as well as bulges. Certain hereditary conditions, like Fuchs’ dystrophy, can do it too, as can corneal degeneration. A damaged cornea can also cause a person to be in a lot of pain.
A cornea transplant is also known as a keratoplasty. During a typical procedure, our experienced eye surgeon will remove all or part of the cornea and replace it with one from a donor.
It is important to understand that the cornea does not consist of a single layer. In fact, there are five layers to it. It is not always necessary to replace all of the layers. There are times when only the outermost layer is replaced and other times when only the innermost layer is replaced. Other transplants may replace more than one, but not all of the layers.
When the entire cornea is replaced, the procedure is referred to as a penetrating or a full thickness transplant. When this is done, the surgeon uses a special device to remove the cornea from the eye. The size of the donor’s cornea is then matched up with it so it will fit properly into the recipient’s eye. The details of each procedure and the methods used vary depending on the unique needs of the patient.
If your eyesight is suffering or you are experiencing eye pain and you think the problem may be related to a damaged cornea, you should seek an evaluation from our medical team at Live Oak Ophthalmology in Wilmington, NC. We can confirm the source of the problem and do an evaluation to determine if a cornea transplant is a viable option for you. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation to learn more.