Corneal Transplant Surgery

DSEK Corneal Transplant Surgery on Long Island – Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD, FAAO

Corneal transplant surgery, often referred to as penetrating keratoplasty (PK) or corneal grafting, is performed to replace damaged tissue on the eye's clear surface (cornea). Healthy tissue used during corneal transplant surgery is obtained from an eye bank. Dr. Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD, FAAO, offers the advanced DSEK corneal transplant surgery to patients throughout the Tri-State area and has successfully performed more than 2,500 keratoplasty procedures. He also serves as the Surgical Director of the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island and leads a nationally recognized corneal surgery training program.

What Is DSEK Corneal Transplant Surgery?

Descemet's stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) corneal transplant surgery is an advanced technique during which the damaged part of the cornea is replaced with healthy donor tissue. When compared to traditional corneal transplant surgery, which involves replacement of the entire central corneal tissue, several stitches and up to 12 months of recovery time, the DSEK procedure is significantly less invasive.

Unlike conventional, full-thickness corneal transplant surgery, the DSEK procedure involves surgical replacement of only the damaged inner layers of the cornea. During this procedure, the back layer of the cornea is removed through a small incision on the surface of the eye and replaced with a thin layer of donor tissue. The new tissue is secured in place with an air bubble that is injected into the eye. The incision is then closed with one small suture. In some cases, no suture is needed.

Advantage of DSEK Corneal Transplant Surgery

The DSEK corneal transplant surgery greatly reduces the patient's discomfort and is associated with several advantages over traditional corneal graft surgery, including:

  • Reduced recovery time
  • Less postoperative astigmatism
  • Reduced possibility of donor tissue rejection
  • Decreased risk of wound complications
  • Stronger corneal integrity
  • Smoother corneal surface
  • Faster restoration of vision

Corneal Transplant Surgery Recovery and Results

Corneal transplant surgery is a complex procedure and requires several weeks of recovery time. Although most patients are able to return to work within three to five days, continued postoperative care is essential to the success of this procedure. During recovery, patients are asked to wear a protective eye shield, if necessary, as well as use anti-inflammatory eye drops to prevent infection and steroid eye drops to ensure the body accepts the donor tissue. Corneal swelling is common after surgery. Stitches, if any, are usually removed within a few weeks.

Vision after DSEK corneal transplant surgery will continue to improve up to one year. Because it is impossible to precisely match the curvature of the donor tissue to the curve of the patient's cornea, corneal transplant surgery generally induces nearsightedness and astigmatism, which can be treated with vision correction procedures such as LASIK or PRK after full recovery is achieved. It is important to note that vision will most likely fluctuate frequently during the first couple months after corneal transplant surgery.

DSEK Corneal Transplant Surgery Candidacy

Corneal transplant or DSEK surgery is generally recommended for patients who suffer from the following eye conditions:

  • Corneal tissue damage or scarring
  • Severe keratoconus
  • Corneal failure after previous surgery
  • Thinning of the cornea
  • Chemical burns
  • Severe swelling of the cornea (edema)

For more information about DSEK corneal transplant surgery, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Donnenfeld.

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