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What is keratoplasty?
The cornea is the clear front layer of the eye located just in front of the colored part (iris). It is completely transparent, allowing light to enter the eye, and also refracts or bends the light to focus images of objects, both near and far, onto the retina. Corneal transplant surgery, also known as keratoplasty, is a procedure in which a cloudy or damaged cornea is replaced with a clear cornea.
How does a defective cornea affect vision?
If the cornea of our eye becomes inflamed due to tissue swelling or becomes cloudy and loses its transparency, it is no longer smooth and polished. Corneal cloudiness, corneal swelling, or irregular corneal shape scatter light in different directions, creating an irregular image and causing blurred vision. For good vision, a smooth and transparent cornea is always necessary.
Corneal transplantation is a restorative treatment for which conditions?
The stages of corneal transplant before surgery
When a cornea specialist surgeon determines that your eye requires a transplant, they request a cornea for you from an eye bank. Before delivering the cornea, the eye bank conducts examinations to ensure it is free from infectious diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, etc., and checks for transparency. Your eye doctor will advise you on anesthesia and request necessary tests. If you are taking any specific medications, be sure to inform your doctor.
During the surgical procedure
During eye surgery, your eye is held open using a tool called a speculum. The eye is carefully washed, and a cornea specialist examines it with a microscope, measuring your defective cornea and the donor cornea. The defective cornea is precisely removed from the eye, and additional procedures such as cataract removal may be performed if needed. Then, the healthy and transparent donor cornea is stitched in place. At the end of the procedure, a protective shield is placed over your eye.
If you experience the following symptoms, contact a doctor:
What is the Cornea Bank?
Prior to the 1970s, there was no suitable environment for preserving corneas and eyes, which is why corneal transplants were performed several hours after the donor’s death. From the early 1970s onwards, a suitable environment for preserving corneas and eyes became available on the market, which could keep the cornea healthy for several days to weeks. This made it possible to transport corneas to distant areas.
In eye banks, there are specific criteria for the usability of a cornea from a deceased person. If the individual had certain diseases, the cornea may not be suitable for transplantation.
Due to the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS, laboratory tests are conducted before corneal transplantation. If these tests are negative, the corneal tissue is sent to transplantation centers. Corneas from individuals aged 1 to 70 years are generally considered suitable for transplantation, although the quality of the cornea may decrease with age.
Prescribing glasses after a corneal transplant
In many cases of transplantation, after the surgery, eyeglasses or contact lenses will be prescribed to correct refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), but nowadays, it is possible to use LASIK as an alternative method.