THE CORNEAL TRANSPLANT SURGERY PATIENT EXPERIENCE
Most people who have been told they might need a corneal transplant are understandably uncertain and concerned. They don’t always know what to expect in terms of success rates, discomfort, and physical activity after the procedure. Most patients have mild discomfort for the first few days after surgery, and they usually return to work after about three to four days.
What is Corneal Transplantation?
Corneal transplant surgery is the most commonly performed and most successful transplant procedure. Unlike other forms of transplantation, patients generally do not require any anti-rejection pills or intravenous medications, and in most cases it is uncommon for rejection to interfere with the eventual success of corneal transplants. The cornea – the “clear window” in front of the eye – usually has no blood vessels in it, so the body’s immune system is unaware of the surgery. For most patients, rejection rarely causes failure of the corneal transplant.
What Conditions May Lead to Corneal Transplantation?
Common corneal conditions that require transplantation surgery include keratoconus, corneal edema, and corneal dystrophies. Corneal transplant surgery has evolved into a highly specialized procedure, best performed by surgeons who are corneal fellowship trained. We usually perform our transplant surgery in our state-of-the-art eye surgery center, a freestanding ambulatory surgery center that specializes in eye surgery.
Discomfort After Corneal Transplant Surgery
Most patients experience a foreign body sensation (as if something were in their eye) for several days after corneal transplant surgery. Often, the eye aches and itches and bright lights may be temporarily uncomfortable. This discomfort improves over the course of several days. At no point after the first day or two should you experience severe pain. If you experience pain that is not relieved by Tylenol, you should call the office and ask to speak with your surgeon. Most patients can return to their usual routines within several days after surgery. You may even watch TV soon after your surgery.
Expected Vision After Corneal Transplant Surgery
Contrary to popular opinion, your vision will not improve immediately after corneal transplant surgery. In fact, your vision may be worse after surgery than it was before surgery. For the first few weeks or months following surgery, you will likely experience daily fluctuations in your vision. However, if your vision improves over the course of several weeks and then suddenly dramatically decreases, this may be cause for concern.
At about three months after a corneal transplant, your surgeon will consider changing your glasses to allow better vision in that eye. Most patients get their best vision about one year after the transplant. Also, increasing redness and light sensitivity is a possible sign of a problem, as is seeing bright flashing lights, a “curtain” across your vision, or a large shower of floaters. Some floaters after surgery, however, are to be expected.
Contact us to schedule a consultation with the experienced cornea transplant surgeons at Washington Eye Physicians and Surgeons.