Information about corneal transplantation in the UK
A corneal transplant is the most frequently performed transplant surgery in the United Kingdom.
In the majority of cases the aim is to improve vision, but it can also be performed to eradicate an infection of the cornea or restore the integrity of the eyeball. The main indications for transplantation result in a loss of corneal transparency which are crucial for good vision.
The main indications for corneal graft surgery are:
- Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy, a disease predominantly impacting older patients involving the endothelial layer of the cornea and resulting in corneal oedema (swelling)
- Pseudophakic bullous keratopathy refers to irreversible corneal oedema after cataract surgery and intra-ocular lens implantation
- Keratoconus causes irregular astigmatism where the cornea starts to protrude with the potential for corneal scarring affecting patients from childhood to their mid-30s
- Re-grafting is necessary when the previous graft has failed
Different types of corneal transplant surgery are performed depending on which layers of the cornea are affected in each condition. The majority of corneal grafts are endothelial keratoplasties which replace the posterior layers of the cornea. Anterior lamellar keratoplasty can be performed when replacement of only anterior corneal layers is required. Depending on the surgeon’s preference, an alternative full thickness corneal graft can be transplanted replacing all layers of the cornea.
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