A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure used to replace a damaged cornea with donor tissue. The procedure is performed in two ways: penetrating keratoplasty, which replace the whole cornea, and lamellar keratoplasty, which replace a portion of the cornea.
Before eye donation can begin, the donor must give their consent. Usually, this consent comes from the next of kin. The person donating the eye should have written permission from the family and notify the family members about their decision to donate their eye. Once the family understands the reasons for the donation, they are more likely to agree.
After the surgery, the patient will need to wear an eye patch for the next few days to help reduce inflammation. A sedative will also be given to help with any discomfort. After the surgery, the patient should avoid exercising and sleeping in a flat position. Patients may also be advised not to rub the eye or swim for a few days.
In the past, the transplant process was difficult, and unreliable, but advances in microsurgical techniques and immunosuppressive drugs have made it possible. In 2016, an experimental whole eye transplant was performed in which the optic nerve cells remained alive for more than two years after the surgery. In the coming years, more research will be needed to find ways to regenerate the nerves so that patients can be restored to full sight.