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Cornea Grafting

Before & After Cornea Grafting



Corneal grafting, also known as corneal transplantation or penetrating keratoplasty, is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced by donated healthy corneal tissue obtained  from a recently deceased individual. The cornea is the clear part of eye in front of the iris and pupil. The surgical procedure is performed by ophthalmologists, medical doctors who specialize in eyes.


Indications for corneal transplantation include the following :

Optical : To improve vision by replacing the opaque cornea by a clear cornea. The most common indications in this category is

  1. pseudophakic bullous keratopathy ( cornea becoming opaque after a cataract operation,
  2.  keratoconus, a disease causing weakening of cornea
  3.  corneal degeneration and dystrophy,
  4. Corneal  scarring following infection or injury
Tectonic/reconstructive: To preserve corneal anatomy and integrity of the eye in patients with corneal thinning or corneal perforation.
Therapeutic: To remove infected corneal tissue unresponsive to treatment by antibiotics or anti-virals.

Cosmetic: To improve the appearance of patients with corneal scars that have given a whitish or opaque hue to the cornea.


The Cornea can be replaced full thickness Penetrating Keratoplasty ( PK) or just the diseased layers as possible in the present days. If the front layer of cornea is replaced, it is called Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK). If the back layer (endothelial) is replaced it is called Descemet’s  Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty  (DSEK).

In either techniques, a Corneal tissue taken from a donated eye is used. The donated eye is taken from a recently expired person soon after (not over 6 hrs.) his death. Therefore it is very important that no time is wasted in getting the eye donated. Hence anyone who wishes to donate the eye should inform their family members about their wish to do so. This enables the family members to unhesitatingly proceeed to donate the eyes soon after death. It also helps to note down the telephone numbers of closest eye banks in  home telephone diaries. The eye banks instruct the donor’s family  the care to be observed while they soon approach to collect the eye. The process is relatively simple & does not mutilate the appearance of the donor.

Once the eye bank receives an eye donation it evaluates the eye’s health and decides how it can be used. It also informs the recipient patient to get ready for transplantation as soon as possible. Ordinarily, most eye banks will store the donor tissue in a medium which can preserve the eye for upto three days.

Following the grafting operation, the patient needs to be under the surgeon’s care for monitoring the recovery & energetically treating any problems that may come up, esp. graft rejections. If treated timely , most grafts can survive.


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