Disease or injury of the cornea may result in clouding, opacity, scarring, or irregular or abnormal shape. In these circumstances, corneal transplantation may be required. Common indications include keratoconus, Fuchs’ corneal endothelial dystrophy, bullous keratopathy, or corneal scarring from infection or injury. During corneal transplantation Dr Beltz removes the diseased part of your cornea, and replaces it with a donor cornea that has been provided by an organ and/or tissue donor.
Transplantation of the cornea can be full thickness (also known as traditional or penetrating keratoplasty) or partial thickness (targeted). Full thickness corneal transplantation involves removal of the diseased cornea in its entirety, replacing it with the prepared human donor cornea. Very small sutures are used to hold the donor cornea in place while it heals. These sutures are removed in clinic once the donor cornea has healed into place, between 12 and 24 months post-operatively. Full visual recovery can take around two years after this type of corneal transplant, and spectacles or contact lenses will likely be required long term.
Over the past 10 years, targeted corneal transplantation has become popular for the treatment of corneal disease. This procedure aims to replace only the diseased layers of the cornea, leaving the healthy layers intact. In this way, just the front or just the back of the cornea may be replaced. Targetted corneal transplantation often results in better and faster visual outcomes with reduced risk compared to traditional .
Dr Beltz will thoroughly assess your eye and if required, recommend corneal transplantation. Targeted corneal transplantations is an area of special interest and expertise for Dr Beltz, and she will consider the most appropriate type for you. Any form of corneal transplantation requires significant commitment on the part of the patient. Whilst full immunosuppression is not required (as would be for a solid organ transplant) and rejection is relatively rare, eye drops and regular follow-up are essential. For if rejection does occur, treatment must be initiated promptly in order to save the transplant. In addition, ongoing follow-up is required to monitor the health of the transplant, and to check for other problems such as glaucoma or raised intra-ocular pressure.