Corneal Transplants

cornealtransplantsCorneal transplantation is one of the most successful transplant surgeries performed in the world.

More than 40,000 corneal transplants are performed in the U.S. every year, and the procedure has a higher
success rate than any other tissue transplant.

It can be required for any of the following reasons or conditions:

  • Keratoconus
  • Fuchs’ Dystrophy
  • Bullous Keratopathy
  • Corneal scarring from injury or chemical burns
  • Corneal ulcers

After a corneal transplant, it can take up to six months or longer to achieve your best vision.



There are two main types of corneal transplant surgeries: Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK) and Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK). Your doctor will decide which procedure is best suited for correcting your specific corneal condition.

Endothelial Keratoplasty (EK) works by replacing just the inner layer of the cornea, leaving the remainder of your cornea intact. The transplanted tissue is initially held in place by an air bubble inside the eye, which dissolves within the first few days. The transplant will attach in 90% of cases but may need to be reattached or replaced in some situations. Vision usually returns between one to three months, but best corrected vision may take six months or longer.

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK) involves replacing the entire, full thickness central-two-thirds of the cornea, leaving the peripheral portion intact. The transplanted tissue is held in place with 24 sutures in the early healing phase. These sutures will be periodically removed by your doctor during the first year of healing. Best vision usually comes after at least six to 15 months.

It is normal for your vision to be blurry for the first few months after surgery, due to the healing process and changes in the optics of your vision. Your doctor will provide you with an updated glasses prescription once your vision stabilizes.

Both types of corneal transplant surgery require ongoing post-operative care. As with any transplant, the risk of your body rejecting the transplant exists. Fortunately, rejections happen infrequently, but the majority of them can be turned around with timely and appropriate medical care. Signs of rejection include redness, sensitivity to light, change in vision and pain (RSVP). If you notice any of the RSVP signs, call our office immediately. Many transplant patients are kept on eye medicine for life to reduce the likelihood of rejection.

Saving Sight Logo

We are proud to be a partner in sight with Saving Sight, a program of the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation.

Saving Sight retrieves, processes and distributes the highest quality donor eye tissue to corneal surgeons in the three-state region of Missouri, Kansas and Illinois before it’s offered to those nationally as well as internationally. We encourage our patients to write anonymous “thank you” notes that will be forwarded to the family of the donor.