During traditional corneal transplant surgery (also known as Penetrating Keratoplasty or PKP), a patients cloudy or diseased cornea is removed and a human donor cornea (taken from an organ donor) is used to replace the diseased cornea. Very small sutures are used to hold the donor cornea in place while it heals. These sutures are gradually removed in the months following surgery as the donor cornea heals into place. The most common eye conditions that lead to the need for corneal transplant surgery are: keratoconus, Fuch's corneal dystrophy, bullous keratopathy, post-infectious corneal scars, as well as traumatic injury. Patients who have undergone corneal transplant surgery are at lifelong risk for rejection of the transplant and must agree to maintain regulary scheduled follow up visits with their corneal surgeon.
DSEK (Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty)
A more modern and very promising type of corneal transplantation has been introduced for those patients with primarily endothelial corneal disease such as Fuch's dystrophy and bullous keratopathy. During this procedure only the innermost endothelial layer of the patient's cornea is replaced by a similar layer of corneal donor tissue. This allows for not only a safer surgical procedure but much quicker visual recovery and less post-operative discomfort. Additionally, the likelihood of post-operative transplant rejection may be less than with traditional corneal transplantation. While this procedure is newer, it has been Dr. Barnhorst’s experience that DSEK is generally safe with good long-term results and much quicker visual recovery than traditional corneal transplant surgery.