Diseased or damaged corneal tissue can have profoundly negative effects on your vision. The cornea’s job is to refract light and focus your vision. A damaged cornea distorts or scatters light, making it very difficult for your eyes to focus properly. Glasses and contact lenses can help to a certain extent, but the most effective long-term solution to the blurred or distorted vision caused by a damaged cornea is a corneal transplant.
Every year, doctors in the United States perform more than 47,000 corneal transplant surgeries.
Since the early 1960s, this procedure has helped more than a million people regain their eyesight. By replacing the diseased cornea with healthy tissue from an organ donor, a corneal transplant can effectively eliminate the blurred and distorted vision problems caused by a damaged cornea.
Corneal eye disease is the fourth most common cause of blindness in the world after cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Estimates point to this condition affecting more than 10 million people around the globe.
In most cases, patients should notice gradual improvements in their vision a few weeks after corneal transplant surgery. Full recovery takes longer. It can take anywhere from a few months to a full year for patients to have stable vision with new corneal tissue.
Corneal transplants are not 100% successful. Since every cornea has a slightly different shape, it is almost impossible to exactly match the curve of replacement corneal tissue to the natural cornea. As a result, most patients deal with some degree of myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism (distorted vision due to imperfections in the eye’s curvature) following surgery.
Sometimes, eye doctors will attempt to correct post-surgery astigmatism or myopia through standard means such as eyeglasses, or soft lenses. Unfortunately, these measures are frequently unsuccessful.
Following corneal transplant surgeries, patients must go through a suturing and healing process that makes refraction unpredictable and risky. Eyeglasses and soft lenses can correct mild myopia or astigmatism but are insufficient for more severe vision problems.
At Miami Contact Lens Institute, we help patients overcome post-corneal transplant vision problems using scleral lenses. These lenses are extremely beneficial after surgery for several reasons.
New corneas always have a risk of failure. Contact lenses can increase this risk by causing irritation or putting mechanical stress on the new corneal tissue. Over time, this stress and irritation can lead to infection of the tissue, which can cause the graft to fail. Instead of coming into direct contact with the corneal tissue, scleral lenses are supported by the sclera, or the white part of the eye. The lenses vault over the cornea, leaving a constant reservoir of saline solution between the lens and the cornea at all times. The fluid reservoir keeps the corneal tissue hydrated, which can help reduce the risk of graft failure.
Scleral lenses also provide outstanding vision correction. As mentioned previously, patients often experience levels of myopia and astigmatism following corneal transplant surgery. These refractive problems can lead to symptoms such as light sensitivity, visual distortion, and chronic headaches. By substituting the irregular transplanted corneal tissue as an optical surface, the scleral lens and the liquid vault behind it provide clear and comfortable vision to most post-transplant patients.
Corneal transplant cost may vary and should be consulted first with one of our optometrist in Miami practice. Contact us today.