In corneal transplantation a diseased or scarred cornea is replaced with a healthy one. Special microsurgical instruments are used to remove the diseased part of the cornea and replace it with a transparent donor cornea. Fine nylon sutures secure the donor cornea in place, and antibiotics are administered locally to prevent infection. The eye is dressed with sterile gauze pads and a protective shield. Following surgery, the eye needs to be protected and eye drops applied for several months to promote healing. Some patients get good vision in two to three months, while others must wait for complete healing, which occurs at about a year.
Corneal transplantation enjoys a high success rate. The most important factors determining success are the underlying disease process and the quality of the tissue used during transplantation. Should the body reject a new cornea, it can be successfully treated if medication is administered at the first sign of symptoms. For this reason, it is important that patients immediately report sudden changes in their condition (eye redness, sensitivity to light, decreased vision, pain in the eye) to their surgeon.