Full Thickness Corneal Transplants (Penetrating Keratoplasty or PKP)
The front of the eye is covered by a clear portion called the cornea which functions as the “windshield” of the eye. The cornea needs to stay clear in order for the light to travel through it and allow us to see. Certain people may develop a scar from an infection, keratoconus, or trauma which limits the vision (imaging a large crack through the windshield of your car).
What is the goal of the surgery?
The goal of the full thickness corneal transplant to restore vision lost due to clouding and irregularity of the cornea. It cannot fix problems and restore vision loss due to glaucoma, macular degeneration, or retinal detachments.
How is the procedure performed?
Fortunately, the cornea can be replaced with a full thickness corneal transplant. The transplant is performed as an outpatient surgery with local anesthesia. The entire eye is anesthetized to keep it from moving, and there is no longer a need to put patients to sleep. The procedure is typically performed in 45-60 minutes where the old cornea is removed and a new cornea is sutured in place. In order to minimize risks associated with the surgery, blood thinner medications are typically stopped prior to the operation. Vision is limited for many months while the new graft is healing in place. The transplants can last up to 10 years or longer and may be repeated in the future as needed.