Patients elected to have a corneal transplant will be referred by their ophthalmologist to the Eye Bank upon filling a medical report. After completing registration, the patient will be added to the AUBIEB waiting list; they will be treated on “first come, first served” basis. Emergency cases (uni-ocular/ children/ impending corneal perforation, etc.) will be prioritized.
Before eye bank request a cornea, the listed patients and their doctors are contacted to make sure they are ready for surgery. Prior to surgery, patients undergo routine medical clearance.
The surgery lasts for one and a half or two hours. Usually, it is performed under general or local anesthesia. The operation is performed by the transplanting surgeon. During the surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged cornea and replaces it with the clear donated cornea. The surgery can be combined with cataract removal and/or lens insertion if needed.
The eye doctor examines the eye on day one after the surgery and frequently during the next few days till ensuring the stabilization of the eye condition. The recipient is instructed on how to use the necessary medications (eye drops, and oral medications). In frequent cases, recipients sense improvement within few days.
The recovery period varies between two to four weeks after surgery. The recipient should avoid rubbing or having any contact with the eye. Any activity that might increase the pressure of the eye should be avoided. It is also very important for patients to keep every follow-up appointment with their doctor throughout the recovery period and use medication exactly as prescribed. Visual recovery might take up to 6-12 months, and sutures are usually kept for one year after surgery. Removal of sutures will be titrated according to visual needs after that period.
In case of any complication, patients should contact their doctor immediately. If a graft fails, another cornea transplant is performed. Transplant recipients must watch for the following conditions: Redness of the eye, decrease in vision, pain, and light sensitivity.
Frequently asked questions
What is a cornea and how do corneal transplants restore sight?
The cornea is a clear tissue that covers the front of the eye. Any damage to the cornea through disease or injuries will lead to the loss or impairment of vision. All transplanted corneas are received from humans who signed a pledge to donate their corneas after death.
Who can donate eye tissues?
Everyone is a universal donor provided his/ her eyes match the criteria that ensure the safety of the recipient. Absolute contraindications to donate include cornea operated eyes and infectious diseases transmissible to recipient.
How can I donate my eye tissues?
Healthy people are welcome to sign donor pledge witnessed by two of their relatives in our eye bank at the 7th floor. For terminal patients, the closest next of kin should contact the nurse manager to share their wish to donate. The nurse manager will contact our team on our ext. 5570. The eye bank team, once informed, meets the family to discuss the donation process.
Would donating delay funeral arrangements?
Donating will not delay the funeral arrangement for more than four hours.
Does my religion support eye, organ and tissue donation?
All major religions support donation.
Is cancer a rule-out for donation?
No, cancer does not automatically prohibit eye donation.
If I wear glasses can I still donate?
Yes, you can! People who have poor vision and wear glasses, or have had previous eye diseases or surgery can still donate. Donated Eyes that are not medically suitable for transplant will be used for medical research and education.
How long do recipients usually wait to receive a cornea?
It depends on the availability and the quality of the corneas. However, emergency cases are always taken into consideration.
How long can a cornea be stored?
Under appropriate conditions and suitable preservation environment, corneas can be stored up to 14 days in the eye bank. .
What happens to unused tissue?
Tissue not used for transplantation or research is disposed of in an ethical manner.