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Corneal transplant surgery

Surgery could improve your vision if the cornea has become diseased, causing your vision to become less clear. Book online today.

Your eye has a number of layers (layers of the cornea).

The cornea is the transparent (clear), dome-shaped outer layer in front of the black pupil and coloured iris.

Sometimes the cornea can become diseased, causing it to become less clear. This affects your vision.

There are many causes for the cornea becoming diseased.

Three common causes need surgery:

  • Keratoconus – A condition where the cornea becomes cone-shaped, causing blurred vision.
  • Endothelial decompensation – A condition that causes the cornea to become swollen and cloudy.
  • Scarring – The cornea can become scarred if you have a serious infection or injury that causes inflammation.

What are the benefits of corneal transparent surgery?

Corneal transplant surgery could improve your vision.

Different types of glasses and contact lenses may help.

If you have endothelial decompensation, eye drops may be helpful.

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible, including a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic that is injected around your eye to numb it.

The operation usually takes 1 to 2 hours. Your surgeon will remove the centre part of your diseased cornea and replace it with a part of a cornea from a donor (someone who has died).

Your surgeon may replace all of your cornea (penetrating keratoplasty), the outer layers (deep lamellar keratoplasty) or just the inner layer (endothelial keratoplasty).

Your surgeon will use small stitches to seal your eye.

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. The healthcare team will give you eye drops and sometimes medication to take home.

Do not swim or lift anything heavy until you have checked with your surgeon. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible.

Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a good recovery.

It may take up to 2 years for your vision to improve. You may need to have an operation to change the shape of the cornea.

The healthcare team will arrange for you to come back to the clinic regularly, so they can check that the transplant is healing well and for signs of rejection.

Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death.

However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Specific complications of this operation

  • Heavy bleeding inside your eye
  • Inflammation in your other eye
  • Leak at your wound
  • Transferring infection from the donor
  • Increase in eye pressure
  • Failure of the transplant

Disease of the cornea is a common problem that causes the transparent outer layer of the front of your eye to become less clear.

If other treatments do not help, a corneal transplant can be performed by one of our leading ophthalmic surgeons to improve your vision.

Book your appointment online today.



  • Author: Prof Anthony King MD FRCOphth
  • Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All

Specialists offering Corneal transplant surgery

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Mr Sanjay Mantry

Consultant Ophthalmologist

FRCS (Glas), FRCOphth (Lond)

Kings Park Hospital 2 more Ross Hall Hospital Ross Hall Clinic Braehead

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Prof William Ayliffe

Consultant Ophthalmologist

MBBS, BSc, DO, FRCS(Lond), FRCS(Ed), FRCOphth.PhD

Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Mr Mike Adams

Consultant Ophthalmologist

MA (Cantab) MB BChir FRCOphth PGDipCRS

The Chiltern Hospital 1 more The Shelburne Hospital

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Mr Usman Hussain

Consultant Ophthalomologist

MBBS, BSc (Hons), PGCME, FRCOphth

St Edmunds Hospital

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Mr Wagih Aclimandos

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon


The Blackheath Hospital 2 more Chelsfield Park Hospital The Sloane Hospital

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