Although only 15-20% of those with keratoconus ultimately require corneal transplant surgery, for those who do, it is a crucial and sometimes frightening decision. However, those who know what to expect before, during and after surgery are better prepared and feel more in control of their health care.In keratoconus, a corneal transplant is warranted when the cornea becomes dangerously thin or when sufficient visual acuity to meet the individual’s needs can no longer be achieved by contact lenses due to steepening of the cornea, scaring or lens intolerance. Lens intolerance occurs when the steepened, irregular cornea can no longer be fitted with a contact lens, or the patient cannot tolerate the lens.
Once the decision has been made, you will be less anxious and feel more in control if you know what to expect – what the “normal” routine is for this type of surgery. The more information you have, the more prepared you will be.
To request a copy of the NKCF booklet on corneal transplant surgery click here.
The femtosecond laser is the most dramatic breakthrough seen in corneal transplant surgery in the past decade. The laser allows the surgeon to focus the laser energy at a particular depth and then rapidly cut the tissue at that depth without causing any additional injury to the surrounding tissue.
Vision varies a great deal after a transplant and continues to change for many months. It may start out very poor and gradually improve or be very good immediately after surgery and then worsen. It could take up to a year to develop good, stable vision.
Have you noticed a slow decline in your vision? Do colors seem not as bright as they used to be? Has night driving, which was already difficult, become more difficult? Have changes in your contact lenses not helped? You could be developing a cataract. Cataract formation, which is ‘clouding’ of the lens, can cause declining vision and visual disturbances very similar to those from keratoconus.
Medical terminology is a language of its own. It can be confusing and alarming if you don’t know what the words mean. This will help you sort out the language of transplant surgery.