Corneal Grafts

A Corneal Graft is when a clear portion of a clear cornea from a donor’s eye is used to replace the cloudy or abnormally shaped cornea in the patient’s eye.  A corneal graft is also known as a corneal transplant or penetrating keratoplasty.  It is the most successful of all tissue transplants.

WHO NEEDS A CORNEAL GRAFT?

When corneal disease or injury prevents the passage of adequate light into the eye or when the shope of the cornea causes improper focusing of the light, then a corneal graft may be necessary.

 

HOW IS THE SURGERY PERFORMED?

A corneal graft is usually performed under local anaesthesia, although occasionally a general anaesthetic may be preferred.  Tiny instruments are used under the operating microscope and a round section of cornea is removed and replaced with a matching piece of clear donor cornea.  Very fine sutures, smaller in diameter than a human hair, are used to sew the graft into place.  If a cataract is present cataract surgery may be performed at the same time with replacement of an intra-ocular lens.

PARTIAL THICKNESS (LAMELLAR) ENDOTHELIAL GRAFTS

Partial thickness or lamellar grafts can be performed when only one layer of the cornea is diseased. Endothelial (back layer of cornea) grafts can be performed if only the endothelial layer is diseased, such as in Fuch’s Endothelial Dystrophy. Our surgeons have experience in this new technique which results in more rapid visual recovery.

WHERE DO THE CORNEAS COME FROM?

The corneas are human tissue which have been generously donated by the families of recently deceased relatives. The NSW Lions Eye Bank is responsible for the collection and distribution of the tissue.  Every cornea is thoroughly checked for transmittable disease including HIV and Hepatitis B and C.  The recipient can not meet or contact the donor family, alothough notes of thanks can be given via the Eye Bank.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT FOR A CORNEAL TRANSPLANT?

The waiting list for a corneal transplant is currently about 6-12 months, except in emergency situations.  When tissue does become available, the patient may receive two to three days notice.  Please make your family and/or employer aware of this.  The NSW Lions Eye Bank continues its effort to reduce the waiting list by encouraging more people to register themselves as organi-tissue donors.

For any further questions, please contact our Corneal Graft Coordinator, Dana McClure on (02)9387 8700 or dana@sydneyvision.com.au