Your cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped surface of your eye that accounts for a large part of your eye's focusing power. A cornea transplant (keratoplasty) is a surgical procedure to replace part of your cornea with corneal tissue from a donor.

A cornea transplant can restore vision, reduce pain and improve the appearance of a damaged or diseased cornea.

Blindness is a major health problem in developing countries like India. The major causes of blindness in India are cataract and glaucoma, followed by corneal blindness. The global burden of blindness has been estimated to be 39 million. Out of the blind in India about 6.8 million people are blind due to corneal pathology of which 1 million have bilateral blindness. This figure of corneal blindness is expected to increase to 10.6 million by 2020. According to NPCB(National Programmed for Control of Blindness) there are 120,000 blind people in India due to corneal disease and there is an additional need for 25,000 to 30,000 corneas every year.

Who Needs Keratoplasty?

Conditions that may require a corneal transplantation include:

Corneal scarring
Corneal ulceration or erosion
Inherited corneal disorders, like Fuchs’ dystrophy
Corneal perforation
Corneal Opacity

The most common reason for performing a keratoplasty is to improve diminished vision. More rarely, the surgery is performed to treat a chronic corneal infection. In extremely rare cases, the operation is performed for cosmetic reasons, when corneal scars have affected the appearance of the eye.


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Types of Keratoplasty Procedures

Keratoplasty is a relatively low-risk surgical procedure. It is the most common type of transplant surgery currently performed and has the highest rate of success. There are several different corneal transplant methods available to help restore vision in patients with corneal problems.

1. Penetrating Keratoplasty

Penetrating keratoplasty is the traditional method used for corneal transplantation where the central two-thirds of the damaged cornea is surgically removed and replaced with a healthy cornea from a human donor.

Penetrating Keratoplasty
Penetrating Keratoplasty

2. Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty

Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, also known as DALK, removes only the outermost layers of the cornea, while preserving the healthy, well-functioning inner layers, known as Descemet’s membrane and the endothelium. New laser technology used in a DALK procedure reduces the likelihood of scarring or irregularities in shape that might impair vision.

3. Endothelial Keratoplasty

Endothelial keratoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes the abnormal inner lining of the cornea, known as the endothelium. DSAEK, DSEK and DMEK are several types of endothelial keratoplasty. It requires much smaller incisions than a penetrating keratoplasty, resulting in fewer risks and a shorter recovery time.

Corneal transplants are usually performed with patients under local anaesthesia. While there is some chance of graft rejection or the failure of donor tissue to attach properly to the patient’s own tissue, in the less invasive procedures, this risk is greatly reduced. In these less invasive, shorter surgeries, there is also less scarring and a shorter recovery period.

Endothelial Keratoplasty


What is the success rate of a corneal transplant?

The overall success rate of a corneal transplant is very high using modern eye banking and surgical techniques. However, there are many factors that influence the outcome. For instance, keratoconus has one of the best prognoses for good vision with a greater than 90% chance of a clear graft.

Is a cornea transplant dangerous?

Cornea transplant is a relatively safe procedure. Still, it does carry a small risk of serious complications, such as: eye infection, increased risk of clouding of the eye's lens (cataract) etc.

Can I see after a corneal transplant?

Your eyesight should gradually improve a few weeks after a corneal graft, but it could take anywhere from a couple of months up to a year to have stable vision in the eye that receives the donor tissue. After your cornea transplant has fully healed, it's possible to undergo LASIK eye surgery to improve your vision

Can corneal transplant change Mm eye color?

No, your eye color stays exactly the same. The transplant involves only the transparent clear cornea and not the colored part of the eye (iris).

When can I go back to work after a corneal transplant?

After surgery, the stitches usually stay in place for about 2 to 3 months, and then are slowly removed over many months as your cornea heals. You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in about 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. But your vision will still be blurry

Who can donate corneal tissue?

Everyone is a universal donor for corneal tissue — the donor’s blood type does not have to match the blood type of the recipient. Age, eye color and eyesight are not factors either. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases, most people are potential cornea donors. Under the following conditions donation cannot occur: HIV or AIDS, Active Hepatitis, Active Syphilis, Rabies, Viral Encephalitis, Leukemia, Active Lymphoma, or Active Meningitis.

corneal tissue
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