Are there any risks?

Are there any risks?

The body can reject the donor cornea. If this happens the cornea will become cloudy, the eye may be red, painful, and light sensitive. This is quite a common problem following corneal transplant surgery but is often dealt with effectively by prompt treatment. It is very important that you contact the eye center if your vision suddenly decreases or you have discomfort in the eye (including light sensitivity) and the eye becomes red and sore. Graft rejection can sometimes lead to failure of the graft.

Some other potential complications include:

  • Primary graft failure – The donor graft does not survive the procedure and remains cloudy. Surgery may need to be repeated.
  • Astigmatism – Focusing error due to asymmetry in the shape of the cornea.
  • Glaucoma – Damage to the optic nerve resulting in peripheral vision loss, often due to raised pressure in the eye.
  • Cataract – The original condition, corneal transplant surgery, or the long-term use of steroid drops the following surgery, may all contribute to the development/progression of cataract. This condition (clouding of the lens in the eye) can usually be dealt with by a separate surgical procedure.
  • Uveitis – inflammation of the layers in the eye.
  • Wound dehiscence – the surgical wound can re-open and this may require more stitches. It is important to note that the eye is weakened and particularly vulnerable to injury (especially blunt trauma, such as a blow to the eye) following corneal transplant surgery.
  • Endophthalmitis – An uncommon but severe (usually painful) infection inside the eye which may lead to blindness. This is treated with antibiotics but the outcome can be poor and may even lead to loss of the eye.
  • Detached retina- Peeling off of the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, this usually requires further surgery to repair.
  • Severe bleeding – Bleeding inside the eye which may require further surgery.
  • Loss of vision – There is a risk of blindness or even loss of an eye if this occurs.


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