5 Signs That You May Need a Cornea Transplant

knoxville eye surgeon

In many cases, problems with the cornea can be treated without the need for surgery and can even heal on their own. Unfortunately, more severe problems may eventually require a cornea transplant. In cases like these, a cornea transplant may be necessary in order to protect your vision and restore your quality of life.cornea transplant

The 5 signs that you may need a cornea transplant include:

  • Corneal scarring due to an infection or injury
  • Keratoconus
  • Fuch’s dystrophy
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Pseudophakic bullous keratopathy

Signs You May Need a Corneal Transplant

1. Corneal Scarring Due to an Infection or Injury

Corneal scarring can distort or even block light from entering your eye, resulting in decreased vision. They’re usually the result of an infection or injury to the cornea, but they can also be a result of complications following eye surgery in rare cases. 

HSV keratitis is one of the leading causes of blindness globally. Along with scarring your cornea, this eye infection also causes cold sores on your mouth. It is spread through direct contact, usually by the mouth. Those who have had the infection previously are at a higher risk of reinfection, as well as those who have had a previous infection and wear contact lenses.

A corneal abrasion due to an eye injury can happen for a number of reasons. This could be due to:

  • Being scraped by a fingernail
  • Contact lenses
  • Injury from debris

Be sure to talk to one of our Knoxville eye doctors if you:

  • Experience any type of eye injury
  • Have eye pain that lasts longer than a few minutes or hours
  • Feel like something is stuck in your eye even if nothing is there
  • Get debris in your eyes such as dust, leaves, or a splinter
  • Experience sudden sensitivity to light

Abrasions can be treated without a corneal transplant if they are small or caught early. However, more severe cases may require a corneal transplant. This may be due to an infection or injury that didn’t heal correctly, or it may be the only option to actually close the wound itself.

2. Keratoconus 

The thinning and bulging of the cornea into a cone shape is known as keratoconus. This causes your vision to become blurry and can also result in sensitivity to light and glare. Keratoconus often affects both eyes although one is usually more affected than the other. This condition begins to take effect between the ages of 10 to 25 and slowly progresses over time.

Cornea transplants aren’t usually the first form of treatment for keratoconus. Instead, your eye doctor will go through a process of trying a variety of treatments. This may include:

  • Updated glasses and contact lens prescriptions
  • Gas-permeable contact lenses
  • Scleral contact lenses
  • Hybrid contact lenses
  • Intacs
  • Collagen crosslinking

A cornea transplant is often the last resort for treating keratoconus. In these cases, your condition has progressed to the point that all other treatments are no longer working. This leaves a transplant as your final option in order to restore your vision. Keep in mind that your vision may still not be perfect after treatment and glasses or contacts may still be necessary after surgery.

To learn more about the different treatment options for keratoconus, click here!

3. Fuch’s Dystrophycorneal diseases

Fuch’s dystrophy occurs when cells in the endothelium (the innermost layer of the cornea) begin to slowly die off. When healthy, these cells pump fluid from the cornea so it remains clear. Unfortunately, Fuch’s dystrophy interferes with this process resulting in the buildup of fluids. This causes the cornea to become puffy and swollen, leading to hazy or clouded vision over time.

Fuch’s dystrophy comes in two stages — early and later. In the early stage, sufferers often experience hazy vision in the morning that corrects itself throughout the day. During the later stage, the blurriness continues throughout the day without correcting itself. Patients begin developing Fuch’s dystrophy in their 30s or 40s but it can go unnoticed until their 50s or later.  

There is currently no cure for Fuch’s dystrophy with treatments focusing on managing your vision problems caused by the disease. Eye drops or ointments are often used during the earlier stages. However, those with poor vision or scarred corneas may require a cornea transplant to manage their symptoms. Your eye doctor will determine which treatment option is best for you.

4. Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers are open sores that develop in the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium). They are usually caused by infections and may resemble pink eye (conjunctivitis). These ulcers can be caused by bacteria, a virus, parasites, or fungi. 

Other causes for corneal ulcers include:

  • Severe dry eye
  • Allergic reactions
  • Eyelids that can’t close all the way

Initial treatments for a corneal ulcer will depend on what caused it, such as bacteria or fungus. Treatment should be sought immediately in order to prevent any scarring. Severe cases may require a corneal transplant in order to remove the ulcer and restore your vision.

Click here to learn more about symptoms and treatments for corneal ulcers!

5. Pseudophakic Bullous Keratopathy

In some cases, a cornea transplant may be necessary due to complications after eye surgery. One common reason for this is pseudophakic bullous keratopathy (PBK), a problem that can occur after cataract surgery. This condition causes the cornea to become clouded and swollen after cataract removal and can require a cornea transplant later on.

Cataracts are usually the result of aging. As you grow older, the proteins in the lens of your eyes begin to break down causing them to become stiff and cloudy. While cataract surgery can remove the cloudiness in your lens, it leaves a chance of developing a cloudy cornea. Corneal transplantation is the definitive treatment to restore your sight if this happens after your cataract surgery.

Do you need a corneal transplant in Knoxville, TN? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

You can require a cornea transplant for a number of reasons. Corneal scarring can distort or even block light from entering your eye. Keratoconus can cause the cornea to bulge resulting in blurry vision. As Fuch’s dystrophy progresses, morning blurriness can last throughout the day. Corneal ulcers can require a transplant if not treated immediately or effectively. With pseudophakic bullous keratopathy, clouding of the cornea can occur after cataract surgery.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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