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Corneal Transplant

More than 40,000 corneal transplants are performed in the U.S. each year.

Eye Bank Association of America 2008 Statistical Report

A corneal transplant, which replaces damaged or scarred tissue on the eye's clear surface, also is referred to as penetrating keratoplasty (PK) or corneal graft.

A graft replaces the central corneal tissue, damaged due to disease or eye injury, with healthy corneal tissue donated from a local eye bank.  An unhealthy cornea affects your vision by scattering or distorting light and causes glare and blurred vision. A corneal transplant may be necessary to restore your functional vision.

While most people undergoing a corneal transplant can expect a good outcome, graft rejection can occur. However, medical management of graft rejection often can lead to healthy graft survival.  A major study with an eight-month follow-up found a graft survival rate of about 93 percent in people who had undergone a corneal transplant preceded by implantation of healthy, renewable cells (stem cells).

A new version of corneal transplantation, known as Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK), has also been introduced as a new surgical method that uses only a very thin portion of the cornea for transplant.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in 2009 endorsed DSEK as superior to the more conventional full-thickness corneal transplant procedure (penetrating keratoplasty) for better vision outcomes and stability, as well as fewer risk factors.