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How does corneal implant surgery work?

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Cornea transplant surgery involves removing part of the patient's cornea and replacing it with corneal tissue from a donor, according to Mayo Clinic. The surgery is also called keratoplasty, and a patient has this procedure to reduce pain and restore vision. The patient is awake during the surgery and receives a sedative and a local anesthetic to numb the eye.

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Penetrating keratoplasty is the most common type of cornea transplant surgery. The surgeon removes a button-sized piece of cornea by cutting through the entire diseased cornea using a cookie cutter-like tool called a trephine, describes Mayo Clinic. The surgeon then cuts the donor cornea to fit and stitches it into place using fine thread. The patient has the stitches removed at a follow-up visit.

In a lamellar cornea transplant, the surgeon only replaces some layers of cornea with donor cornea, describes WebMD. For a posterior lamellar cornea transplant, the surgeon replaces the endothelium, or the deepest layer of the cornea. The surgeon completes this procedure using Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty or Descemet's Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty. An anterior lamellar cornea transplant affects cornea layers closer to the surface. These transplants are performed to cure congenital corneal conditions and to heal injuries.

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