corneal surgery, corneal transplants

Corneal Surgery & Transplants

Corneal Surgery & Transplants at Center for Sight serving Fall River, Massachusetts and greater Providence, Rhode Island

By Keegan Johnson, M.D.

What Is A Corneal Transplant?
A Corneal Transplant is a type of corneal eye surgery performed in order to replace diseased, damaged or scarred corneal tissue with new healthy corneal tissue. Since damaged or scarred corneal tissue does not allow light to effectively pass into the eye and reach the retina, poor vision and even blindness may result from a damaged cornea.

There are actually a number of different types of Corneal Transplants that Dr. Keegan Johnson, our fellowship trained Corneal surgeon, can perform. They include:

  • corneal transplantPenetrating Keratoplasty-This type of Corneal Transplant involves the surgical removal of the central two-thirds thickness of the damaged cornea. The Corneal surgeon removes the central portion of the damaged or cloudy cornea with a “cookie cutter” like instrument called a trephine, and replaces it with a clear cornea obtained from the eye bank. She then very carefully sews the donor cornea into place using sutures that are thinner than a human hair. To facilitate the healing of the new transplanted cornea, Dr. Johnson prescribes eye drops for patients who have had corneal transplants. After she has determined that the new cornea has healed properly, Dr. Johnson will remove the fine sutures or stitches he put in place during the surgery. This is the most common type of Corneal Transplant. This type of transplant has the potential to provide the clearest vision after healing because there is no interface (layer) to look through. However, the healing time is longer and the use of a contact lens might be required for the clearest vision.


  • Lamellar Keratoplasty- Dr. Johnson may perform this type of Corneal Transplant if the damaged corneal tissue is mainly located in the outermost 50% of the cornea. Essentially, she will carefully dissect the outermost half of the cornea and remove it along with the damaged tissue. Then a new donor cornea is sewn into place. This type of Corneal Transplant is less invasive and will allow your eye to be stronger after surgery than it would be with a regular full thickness transplant, or Penetrating Keratoplasty. However, in some cases there can be some loss of clarity from the interface between the new and remaining layers of the cornea.
  • Decemet’s Stripping with Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK)-This type of Cornea Transplant is performed through a small incision, to remove and replace the inner cell layer of the cornea when it stops working properly. With this technique, the surgeon gently “strips” off the single diseased cell layer, called the Endothelium, and leaves the remaining cornea intact. Dr. Johnson will then thinly slice a donor cornea from the eye bank and fold the back portion in half and inserts it through a small incision into the eye. She will then uses an air bubble to unfold and position the donor tissue on the recipient cornea. Within a few minutes the donor tissue attaches to the recipient without the use of any sutures. There are a number of advantages of DSEK if you are indeed a candidate:
    • Your eye remains much stronger
    • Visual recovery is very rapid
    • DSEK causes little change in eyeglass glasses prescription

Corneal Transplants have become somewhat common in the United States as a treatment for damaged and cloudy corneas. Each year more than 40,000 people undergo corneal transplantation to restore their vision. If we find that other methods of treating your corneal disease or corneal condition are inadequate to give you good sight, we will fully discuss the risks and benefits of Corneal Transplantation and take the time necessary to answer all of your questions.

If you or a family member or friend is in need of help for a corneal transplant or surgery, please take a moment to request an appointment with Dr. Johnson by calling Center for Sight in Fall River, Massachusetts at 508-730-2020.

Center for Sight is conveniently located for patients in need of corneal transplants in Massachusetts or Rhode Island from Attleboro, Fairhaven, Fall River, Franklin, Mansfield, Marion, Mattapoisett, Medfield, Milford, New Bedford, North Attleboro, North Dartmouth, Norton, Oxford, Rehoboth, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Walpole, Whitinsville, Woonsocket, Providence, Smithfield, Westport, Lakeville, Dighton, Little Compton and Tiverton.