It transmits light to the interior of the eye allowing us to see clearly. Corneal injury, disease, or hereditary conditions can cause clouding, distortion, and scarring. Corneal clouding, much like frost on a glass window pane, blocks the clear passage of light to the back of the eye, reducing sight sometimes even to the point of blindness. If the cornea becomes cloudy, one way to restore sight is to replace or transplant the cornea.
Corneal transplantation (keratoplasty) is the most successful of all tissue transplants. An estimated 15,000 corneal transplants are done each year in the United States. After careful evaluation with the ophthalmologist, and making the choice for the corneal transplant, patients needing the procedure are placed on a waiting list for tissue to become available through an eye bank. The operation consists of a transfer of the clear central part of the cornea from the donor’s eye tot he patient’s eye. Soon after the operation, the patient can walk about the resume normal activity. Return of the best vision after the surgery may take up to a year, depending on rate of healing and the health of the rest of the eye.