The cornea is the first transparent tissue of the anterior portion of the eyeball. It is a tissue that acts as a window that allows the entry of light into the eye and it also functions as a lens that allows images to focus on the retina perfectly. The retina is a nerve tissue that brings images to the brain and it allows us to see the objects around us.
The cornea can be altered by trauma, burns, congenital diseases that can affect it and that can be inherited from parents or grandparents. There are also a number of diseases in which the cornea is deformed and loses its lens function, as in the keratoconus, which is a fairly common disease in our midst. In all these situations we, as doctors, propose patients to undergo a corneal transplant to restore their visual functionality.
A cornea transplant is a relatively easy surgery when performed by an experienced surgeon. It involves cutting the cornea with an instrument called a trephine, remove the cornea of the receiver and place a new donor cornea from the eye bank. Once placed, it is sutured with very fine sutures that are left in position at least between one and two years. The results are excellent. The possibility of rejection is low since the cornea is a tissue which has no blood vessels, and our immune system is unable to recognize it.
Transplants generally have a good prognosis and postoperative treatment is perhaps the most important part of it.