Image of Corneal Transplant

The Encyclopedia of Surgery explains:
In corneal transplant, also known as keratoplasty, a patient's damaged cornea is replaced by the cornea from the eye of a human cadaver. This is the most common type of human transplant surgery and has the highest success rate...
the eye is held open with a speculum. A laser is used to make an initial cut in the existing cornea. The surgeon uses scissors to remove it, and a donor cornea is placed. It is stitched with very fine sutures.

Image via reddit.

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Jul 31, 2012
     Category: Medicine | Surgery

My grandpa is still walking around seeing the world tho he passed, lo, these many years gone by.

As Ben said, "A stitch in time saves eyes."
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/31/12 at 10:00 AM
And if I am not mistaken you are fully awake through the entire procedure.
Posted by Todd on 07/31/12 at 11:24 AM
Tom Clancy's character Cathy Ryan says in one book that does needlepoint on eyeballs. Now I see why.

Todd, I'm fairly sure I'd need some chemical relaxants before this. Although it can't be nearly as scary as going blind is.
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 07/31/12 at 01:08 PM
I once interviewed someone who had a cornea transplant. She told me that it takes months to heal because there are no blood vessels in cornea.
Posted by ges on 07/31/12 at 02:27 PM
There must be some blood or nutrients getting to the cornea, it is a living part of the body. The stitches look cool. Do they eventuall dissolve or are they permanent?
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 07/31/12 at 07:59 PM
I have a professional interest in this because I'm a teacher of the blind and visually impaired.

"Because it is avascular (without blood vessels), the cornea remains clear. However, the lack of blood vessels makes the nutrition of the cornea unique. Most of the nutrients supplying the cells of the cornea come from the aqueous or from blood vessels surrounding the area where the cornea joins the sclera. Additional nutrition comes from oxygen in the air and from the tears." [from a professional development program from The Hadley School for the Blind, Ferrell & Tuttle, 1998]


Sutures are left in place for three months to one year, and in some cases if the vision is good, they are left in permanently. The sutures are buried and therefore don't cause discomfort. Occasionally, they do break and then need to be removed. Often they are removed, adjusted or loosened to improve vision. Suture adjustment and removal are simple, painless office procedures.
Posted by ges on 07/31/12 at 10:41 PM
This looks quite a bit like the LASIK procedure to repair nearsightedness - they slice the top of the cornea off, reshape the cornea with a computer-controlled laser, and then flap the cornea back on. You're completely conscious during the entire procedure.

Yes, I've done it, and yes, it's kinda creepy - very Clockwork Orange feeling. Luckily, they give you a fair amount of Valium beforehand, and they don't play Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
Posted by Eric on 08/01/12 at 01:48 AM
'and they don't play Beethoven's 9th Symphony' :lol:
Thanks for the explanation ges. Very interesting, but scary procedure.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/01/12 at 09:12 AM
I have Fuch's Dystrophy and I have had a related procedure called a DSEK or DSEAK (Descemets Stripping Endothelial Automated Keratoplasty) in which just the inner layer of the cornea, called Descemets layer, is replaced with donor tissue. The interesting part is that the the graft is held in place by using an air bubble and you have to lie flat on your back for at least 24 hours, preferably 48. The air buble takes weeks to be absorbed so you are seeing through the bubble which is very interesting. During the surgery you are technically awake but heavily sedated so at least in my case, only remember bits and pieces.
Posted by TMR on 08/01/12 at 02:36 PM
I'll bet being able to observe the world through a bubble saves on the happy weed, right? 😉
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/01/12 at 11:06 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.