Cornea Transplant Surgery

What is Cornea Transplant Surgery?

The cornea is the clear transparent window at the front of the eye through which light enters the eye so an image can be seen. Diseases of the cornea can result in loss of clarity of the cornea or alteration of the natural shape of the cornea. This can result in blurred or distorted vision. Some people also report seeing haloes or glare because of the diseased cornea.

Corneal transplants are done to replace the diseased cornea with a healthy cornea from a deceased donor. Corneal transplants are undertaken in people who have had inadequate improvement in vision with glasses or contact lenses or with medical or laser treatment. For example, people with keratoconus may seek corneal transplants to treat stage 3 keratoconus.

Types of corneal transplant

The cornea is divided into several layers which includes a thin front layer, a thick middle layer and a thin back layer. Given recent advances in corneal transplantation techniques, it is now possible to replace individual layers or the whole cornea.

The most commonly performed corneal transplants are divided into partial thickness (DALK or EK) and full thickness (PK).

    In DALK, the front 90% of the cornea (front and middle layer) is replaced with the front 90% of a healthy donor cornea. The back layer remains untouched. The advantage of this is greater structural integrity and reduced risk of transplant rejection compared to full thickness transplant.

    The commonest reason for doing a DALK is keratoconus. Other common indications are corneal scars and corneal dystrophies.

    In some corneal diseases only the back layer of the cornea is affected causing the cornea to be cloudy. In EK, the back layer of the diseased cornea is replaced with the back layer of a healthy donor cornea to treat the cloudiness. The healthy front and middle corneal layers remain untouched. EK patients have faster visual recovery and maintain the original shape and integrity of the cornea compared to full thickness transplants.

    The main indications for doing an EK are Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy and Bullous Keratopathy (after anterior segment surgery).

    In PK, the full thickness of the cornea is replaced with a donor cornea. This is usually undertaken when all the layers of the cornea are diseased.

Your consultation

During your consultation, you will have a complete assessment of your eye. You may also have scans done to determine which layer(s) of your cornea are affected. Mr. Ayoub will discuss your treatment options with you and guide you on the choice of transplant that is best suited to your corneal problem.

Mr. Ayoub is highly skilled in performing the different types of corneal transplants and will go through the steps of surgery and the recovery process from the surgery with you in detail during the consultation.


    While you are often awake during corneal transplantation, you can ask for a general anaesthetic to put you to sleep.

0330 128 1616

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