A partial thickness corneal transplant (called DSAEK, DMEK, or DALK) is done to remove the diseased, infected, or scarred part of the cornea. That part is replaced with healthy corneal tissue from a person who has died. The cornea is the clear surface that covers the front of the eye.
In most cases, you will be awake during the surgery. The doctor will put medicine in your eye to numb the area. You may also get medicine to help you relax. Or you may get it to make you sleep during the surgery.
Surgical tools are used to keep your eye open. You may feel some pressure in your eye. The doctor makes a small cut (incision) in your cornea. Then he or she removes the unhealthy part of your cornea. Next, the doctor places healthy tissue inside your eye. An air bubble is used to hold the new tissue in place.
The transplant takes about 1 hour. Most people go home on the day of the surgery. But the air bubble stays in place for about 48 hours. During this time, you will need to lie face up, looking at the ceiling. You'll lie this way except for when you need to eat or go to the washroom. After that, you will be able to move around again.
After the surgery, you will also need to wear an eye shield overnight. Then you will need to wear a clear eye shield or glasses to protect your eye. You'll use this until the eye has healed.
You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in about 1 to 2 weeks. But your vision will still be blurry. You will need to avoid heavy lifting for about 4 weeks, or until your doctor says it is okay.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: July 17, 2018
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp MD - Ophthalmology
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