The cornea is the clear front of the eye that covers the colored iris and the round pupil. Light is focused while passing through the cornea so that we can see. To stay clear, the cornea must be healthy.
Damage or disease, however, may cause the cornea to become hazy. If the cornea is damaged it may become swollen or scarred. In any case, its smoothness and clarity may be lost. The scars, swelling or resulting irregular shape cause the cornea to scatter or distort light, resulting in glare or blurred vision. Like a foggy window, light no longer passes through it well, so a blurred image forms in your eye.
When this happens, corneal transplant surgery may be needed to replace the cornea with tissue from a donor. It is one of the most common transplants done. In the last several years a number of new techniques for corneal surgery have become available which offer the potential for faster recovery and fewer complications than traditional full thickness corneal transplantation (penetrating keratoplasty).
Procedures for this are: Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK), Laser-assisted anterior lamellar keratoplasty, Laser-assisted deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, Laser-assisted Intacs for keratoconus.
These procedures may be recommended for people who have:
- Vision problems caused by thinning of the cornea. This is called keratoconus.
- Scarring of the cornea from severe infections or injuries.
- Vision loss caused by cloudiness of the cornea. This is called Fuchs’ dystrophy.