Cornea Transplant Treatment Abroad
The cornea, or the bulge that protects the pupil, is also vital for focusing light waves in a process called refraction. Most visual issues and problems involve refraction errors. The cornea is, is vital to vision. The need to replace or transplanted cornea may be due to several factors, including ulcers, disease, or damage. A cornea transplant is known in medical terms as keratoplasty, and is most often performed as an outpatient procedure.
A cornea ulcer is a break, sore or tears in the surface layer of the cornea. In many cases, this is caused by a scratch, which may eventually be affected by viral, fungal, or bacterial infections. Individuals diagnosed with herpes simplex virus, or those who have a high issues such as bulging or dry eyes may be more susceptible to corneal ulcers because the film of tears that protects and bathes the eye is typically compromised under such conditions.
Symptoms of a corneal ulcer include sensitivity to light, blurred vision, redness and pain. In some cases, the ophthalmologist may need to inject a special dye into the eye and use specialized instruments and tools to see the ulcer clearly.
A corneal ulcer, if left untreated, may result in permanent decrease in vision caused by scarring. In some cases, antiviral eye drops ointment may be recommended, while bacterial infections will require antibiotic ointment or eye drops. Fungal infections are treated with anti-fungal eye drops. In cases where severe scarring has affected the cornea, an individual may need a cornea transplant.
Why a Cornea Transplant?
Any permanent damage to the cornea can interfere with vision, and at times, a cornea transplant is the only correction. During the transplant procedure, the injured, diseased or otherwise defective part of the cornea is removed and replaced with a cornea that comes from a donor.
Cornea Transplant Procedure
The procedure itself takes between one to two hours and does not usually require overnight hospital stays. Prior to the procedure, the individual is given a sedative for relaxation, and a local anesthetic injection to numb the eye. That means the patient is not asleep during the procedure.
The surgeon then cuts through the thickness of the diseased, abnormal or damaged cornea and removes a small, button-sized disc of corneal tissue. Then, a donor cornea is trimmed to fit and inserted into the opening. Fine stitches secure the new cornea in place. This procedure is known as a full thickness cornea transplant.
In addition to the basic or most common procedure, some types of cornea issues prevent a full thickness cornea implant, and a partial thickness cornea implant may be recommended. A partial thickness transplant can be performed in one of two separate procedures:
- Replacement of inner layer ofcornea -this procedure is called deep lamellar transplant, and is designed to replace only the very inside layer of the cornea. (The cornea has five layers.) During this procedure, a small incision is madein the side of the eyeball to facilitate removal of that inner layer without affecting outer layers. Donor grafting replaces the removed layer. Replacement of surface layers of the cornea - called surface lamellar transplant, this procedure removes and replaces outer layers of the cornea, also utilizing donor grafting.
- Following cornea transplant, individuals can expect at the minimum, partial restoration of vision. However, that degree of restoration depends on the reasons for surgery, age, and current health conditions.
Individuals who've undergone a cornea transplant may not see clearly for several months, and it may take up to a year for new cornea tissues to heal completely. In most cases, an individual who was undergone a cornea transplant will still require contact lenses or reading glasses.
Cost of Cornea Transplant
Cost of corneal transplant depends on the procedure and location of the procedure. Posted costs in the U.S. depend on approach and technique, and may not include doctor or surgeon’s fees (can range about $2,000), anesthesia, or donor facilitation costs. Average total cost is between $7,500 and $15,000 for the uninsured. Travelers visiting foreign destinations typically experience lower costs.
Who Performs Corneal Transplants?
An ophthalmologist should be licensed and trained and certified to perform eye surgical procedures. He or she should also be trained to use of laser and ultrasound equipment. Medical licensing in the United States is by local, state, and national medical boards. A good choice would be a doctor who is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, or one who is associated with an academic medical center as they are more apt to be trained in new or advanced procedures.
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