Corneal transplant thanks to a donor

The front part of the eye is called the cornea. If you are unlucky enough that it has become cloudy, you see the world as if through a frosted glass. A corneal transplant can then offer a solution. You are undoubtedly happy that you can be put on a waiting list, but the conflicting feeling is that a donor with a healthy cornea must first die.


Our cornea is also referred to as the window of the eye. It concerns the front part of your eye that allows light to pass through before it reaches the retina via the pupil and lens. The cornea is clear under normal conditions.


Important arguments for transplanting the cornea are:

  • Keratoconus. This means that the cornea has a congenital deformation.
  • Endothelial dystrophy. A hereditary degeneration that occurs in old age.
  • Herpes (eg). Scars due to infections that are disturbing.

Due to the fact that a deceased human donor must be available, there is a waiting period of several months in the case of a corneal transplant.

Examination and treatment

After the indication has been made, an ophthalmologist will provide a questionnaire and a brochure for all the necessary information and also to give the patient the opportunity to delve deeper and ask questions. During the final surgical procedure, the ophthalmologist replaces the cloudy eye membrane with the clear one that comes from the donor. Then there is a cornea transplant. But before that happens, a donor must be found and the candidate will be placed on a waiting list. As soon as a donor is available, the patient is called to make an appointment for the operation. That happens well in advance. The operation usually takes place under general anesthesia.

After the operation

All attention is primarily focused on preventing rejection or infection of the newly transplanted cornea. That is why the patient is given long-term medication, usually as eye drops. To this end, the person will receive written drip instructions after the treatment. And also a prescription with which a gel and drops can be obtained from the pharmacy. It is of utmost importance that the correct amount of medication is used at the prescribed times. The patient must therefore always have these medicines in stock for several days and ring the clinic in time if a repeat prescription is required.

The sutures in the eye often need to remain in place for 12 to 18 months. The shape that the cornea takes in the first few months is not constant and varies greatly. This also means that any contact lenses or definitive glasses can only be determined after that time. During the initial period after the operation, pushing or bumping the eye should be avoided. And this also applies to lifting and heavy work, which should also be avoided. For protection, it is also recommended to wear a protective cap at night during the initial period and protective glasses during the day. If you need to consult a doctor for any reason, always tell them that you have had a corneal transplant. After consultation with the ophthalmologist, it is generally possible to start swimming or exercising again after about 6 weeks.

Possible risks and complications

The transplanted cornea usually remains clear, but in some cases rejection reactions may occur. This causes clouding to occur again. Unfortunately, rejection can occur even years after surgery. The phenomenon may be accompanied by pain in the eye or a feeling of irritation. The eye may also become red or a blurred image may occur. It goes without saying that in such a situation the ophthalmologist should be consulted immediately.


Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of a good result and an undisturbed course, but that applies to many other things.