Full recovery time for a cornea transplant can take up to one year or longer, but patients generally return to work within a week after the operation, as stated by All About Vision. If stitches are used, the physician usually removes them 17 months after the surgery.
Vision may be blurry for the first few months after surgery, and patients may not engage in exercise or heavy lifting for the first several weeks, as affirmed by All About Vision. The physician may prescribe steroid eye drops for several months to help the body accept the new cornea. He may also prescribe medications to prevent infections and relieve discomfort and swelling. Patients must wear an eye patch, shield or sunglasses to keep the affected eye protected from being accidentally bumped during this recovery period.
Cornea transplants have a long-term success rate of 73 percent in patients with Fuchs' dystrophy, 89 percent in patients with keratoconus, and 60 to 70 percent in patients with corneal scarring, according to WebMD. Rejection of the donor tissue occurs in less than 20 percent of cases, but other complications include leakage of fluid from the transplant incision, scarring, cataract formation, astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness. Rarer complications include bleeding, infection, and damage to the new cornea from the recipient's health issues that damaged the original cornea.