A corneal transplant is the surgical replacement of damaged tissue of the eye’s cornea, or clear surface layer. An unhealthy cornea can cause blurred or distorted vision because the eye cannot properly focus light.
Patients who require corneal transplants suffer from distorted vision due to irreversible damage to their cornea. Scarring from diseases and injuries are common reasons for corneal damage. An eye surgeon may also suggest a transplant for other conditions, including family history of corneal failure and keratoconus (irregularly shaped cornea).
Lamellar Corneal Transplants
Dr. Guglielmetti offers partial corneal transplant surgery involving a type of transplantation called lamellar corneal transplants. With this surgery, there are few, if any sutures needed and less risk of tissue rejection or infection as compared to other corneal transplant techniques. Recovery time is also quicker and there is usually less discomfort after surgery. Dr. Guglielmetti’s dedication to using the best equipment and most effective techniques allows him to better treat his patients with these types of procedures.
There are two types of lamellar corneal transplants:
- Back Surface (posterior lamellar)
- Front Surface (anterior lamellar)
During a posterior lamellar transplant, only the innermost layer of the cornea is removed. A small incision is made in the side of the eye to allow for removal of the cornea’s innermost layer without any damage to the outer layers. A donor graft is then used to replace the section removed. The advantages of posterior lamellar transplant include a quicker recovery period, 3 months versus 18 months for a traditional transplant, the ability to see with spectacles, and less risk of suture-related complications, as sutures are usually not necessary in the procedure.
Anterior lamellar transplants affect only the outer layers of the cornea that have been damaged by disease (e.g. keratoconus) or injury. The top layers of the cornea are removed and replaced with a graft, but endothelial cells (inner layer) are preserved, thereby reducing the risk of rejection 20 fold. Corneal graft survival is also improved from 10 years with a traditional implant, to an estimated 50 years with an anterior lamellar transplant.
Corneal transplants are usually placed during an outpatient procedure, and most patients are able to return to work within 2 weeks after surgery. Dr. Guglielmetti will prescribe antibiotic and corticosteroid eye drops to help the eye heal and to prevent graft rejection. Since the cornea doesn’t contain blood vessels, the rejection rate for corneal grafts is extremely low. Some patients experience eye itching or irritation for the first few days after the procedure. Vision may change during the initial months after the procedure, but it continues to improve throughout the first year.
More about Dr. Guglielmetti
Dr. Guglielmetti remains on the forefront of corneal transplant techniques. He has years of experience working with corneal conditions, including a fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. He is dedicated to researching and learning the most advanced ways to perform each procedure he offers at JHB Vision Clinic. Dr. Guglielmetti is also a leading LASIK surgeon in Johannesburg and performs cataract surgeries and “touchless” transPRK.