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Corneal Grafting

The cornea is the transparent front window of the eyes. Its main function is to focus and to transmit light to the back of the eye.

Hereditary conditions or injury such as previous eye surgery or infections may all interfere with the transparency of this structure in which case a corneal graft/transplant may become necessary.

The overriding goal is to recreate a transparent window to see through – however it is also important to have a smooth uniform curvature to the cornea as well as lower the risk of rejection of the transplanted tissue.

Recently, corneal transplant surgery has become revolutionized with the advent of partial thickness corneal transplants (lamellar grating techniques). This allows the surgeon to only replace the diseased tissue and allows a faster visual rehabilitation and lowers the lifelong risk of tissue rejection.

Dr De Wit has had extensive fellowship training in the latest corneal grafting techniques (Cambridge and Belfast, UK) and successfully introduced his surgeries to rural Australian populations since 2015. Usually these types of procedures were traditionally performed in an eye hospital setting – however with the advent of lamellar surgeries and their safety profile we are able to now deliver these procedures more conveniently for patients closer to home.

Types of corneal transplants

Full thickness corneal transplants are used to treat diseases that affect the full thickness of the cornea. Lamellar transplants (DSAEK , DMEK, DALK) are partial thickness corneal grafts and are used to treat the diseased anterior or posterior portion of the cornea. Generally the lamellar corneal transplants have less risk of rejection and a more rapid visual recovery over a period of one to two months as opposed to full thickness corneal grafts which may take up to a year. A corneal graft procedure may be performed in conjunction with cataract surgery depending on the unique requirements of individual diseased eye.

The surgical procedure is a day procedure under general or local anaesthetic and most patients can go home on the day of surgery. Some patients may be best served with an overnight stay with next day postoperative visit, especially if they live far from Barossa Eye Clinic. This is a very specialised procedure and for more information on individual possible risks and complications please make an appointment for assessment.

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