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What is a corneal transplant?

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Quick Answer

A cornea transplant is a surgical procedure in which a patient’s cornea is replaced with a donor cornea. Depending on the disease and the extent of corneal damage, a doctor may choose to replace the entire cornea or just a section, explains WebMD.

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Full Answer

Cornea transplants are done using local or general anesthesia. The surgeon uses an instrument called a trephine to cut out a round section of the cornea from the patient and the donor. The patient's cornea is removed and replaced with the donor cornea. The transplanted donor cornea is then held in place with tiny sutures stitched using a microscope, according to WebMD.

A penetrating cornea transplant involves the transplantation of all five layers of the cornea. In a lamellar cornea transplant, only some layers are transplanted. Lamellar cornea transplants can be anterior or posterior, based on the location of the layers that are replaced. An anterior lamellar cornea transplant involves the replacement of layers closest to the surface of the cornea, while a posterior lamellar cornea transplant involves the replacement of deeper layers, as detailed by WebMD.

The cornea is a clear tissue located in the front portion of the eye, through which light passes before it reaches the pupil, explains WebMD. Infections, scarring, and degenerative and inherited conditions can damage the cornea and negatively affect vision, making a cornea transplant necessary.

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