For patients with a damaged cornea, corneal transplant surgery (also called keratoplasty) can help restore clear vision by replacing the original cornea with healthy corneal tissue from an organ donor.
Corneal damage can be caused by:
- Corneal scarring from infection or injury
- Keratoconus – an eye disease that causes the cornea to bulge
- Corneal ulcers
- Eye diseases, such as Fuch’s dystrophy
- Clouding or swelling of the cornea
- Complications following eye surgery
During surgery, either a portion of the cornea or the entire cornea is replaced with healthy tissue. Depending on the type of surgery, stitches may be needed. In all cases, however, a patch will be required to shield the recovering eye for 1-4 days after the procedure. Your doctor will instruct you on which medications to take and how to care for your eye in the days and weeks following the surgery.
If you require a corneal transplant or have already undergone the procedure, speak with Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger or one of the knowledgeable staff members at Unger Eye Care about how to safely regain clear vision after surgery.
How Is Vision Impacted After a Corneal Transplant?
Full recovery from the surgery may take up to a year, and sometimes longer. In the first few months after the procedure, your vision may even get worse before it gets better. As the eye adjusts to the new cornea, you may experience blurred or unstable vision, which will improve with time.
There is also a high chance of developing post-surgery refractive error— such as myopia or astigmatism — as the new cornea may have a different curvature than your original cornea. These refractive errors are generally corrected with either glasses, rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses, or scleral lenses. In many cases, scleral lenses are the better choice for post-keratoplasty, and for several reasons (explained below).
Why Are Scleral Lenses the Better Choice After Corneal Transplants?
Scleral lenses have a larger diameter than standard soft or gas-permeable lenses, making them more comfortable to wear while providing clear and stable vision. If there is a high variance in corneal curvature or even a slight elevation at the site of the transplant, RGP lenses may decenter, causing irritation and inflammation. Scleral contact lenses prevent this problem as they don’t sit directly on the cornea, but rather vault over it.
Furthermore, scleral lenses support the eye’s natural healing process due to the reservoir of fluid that sits between the cornea and the back of the lens. This keeps the eye in a constant state of hydration for optimal recovery.
Call Unger Eye Care to find out more about scleral lenses and to determine whether they are right for you.
Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger serves patients in Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.