Corneal Transplantation Rejection: Check these Useful Insights

cornea surgery

A corneal transplant is a surgery done to replace a damaged part of the cornea with tissue from a donor. The cornea is the transparent surface of the eye that allows light to enter the eye. A  corneal surgery can restore vision and reduce pain. It can also improve the appearance of a damaged cornea. However, just like any surgery, a cornea transplant involves some risks and possible complications. One such complication is corneal transplantation rejection. Here we share with you useful insights on corneal transplantation rejection:

1. Why is a corneal transplant done? 

A corneal transplant is done to correct eye problems such as 

  • Cornea scarring 
  • Corneal ulcers 
  • Keratoconus
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Fuchs’ dystrophy 
Problems caused by an earlier eye surgery 
2. What happens if cornea transplant is rejected?

Corneal transplant rejection is the most common cause of transplant failure once the surgery is done. The rejection happens when the immune system doesn’t accept the cornea.

3. When does the rejection occur? 

Rejection can occur a few weeks after a cornea transplant. However, it’s more common after several months. It can happen even years after the transplantation.

4. Symptoms of corneal transplantation rejection

Here are some common symptoms that the body has rejected the donated cornea:

  • Red eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision problems 
  • Eye pain

You should rush to the emergency ward of an eye hospital if you notice these symptoms  after a cornea surgery:

5. How is the cornea chosen? 

Corneal tissue used in the transplant comes from people who have died. Corneas are not used from people who died from unknown causes or from donors who had certain medical conditions such as AIDS and hepatitis. The donor cornea can be used only if it passes the screening test. However, unlike liver and kidney transplants, people needing cornea transplants don’t require tissue matching.

6. What are the different types of corneal transplant? 

Cornea surgery types include the following:

Endothelial keratoplasty: In this corneal surgery, the inner layer of the cornea is replaced with a healthy inner layer of a donor cornea. This is used for those suffering from Fuchs’ dystrophy. The risk of rejection in this case is lower than others as too much tissue is not used.

Anterior lamellar keratoplasty : In this corneal surgery, the outer layer of the cornea is replaced with a healthy outer layer of a donor cornea. This is mostly used in patients with keratoconus and scarring of the uppermost layers of the cornea.

Penetrating keratoplasty: 
In this corneal surgery, the entire cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea.

7. Why would a transplanted cornea be rejected?

A corneal transplant is considered rejected when the donated tissue doesn’t receive the blood supply. The immune system recognises that the tissue as foreign and rejects it.

8. Corneal transplantation rejection is reversible: 

Cornea transplant rejection is generally reversible. The problem can often be treated effectively with steroid eye drops.  However, the chances of successful treatment is better when you seek medical intervention early on. 

9. Ways to avoid corneal transplantation rejection 

The risk for complications after corneal surgery varies from one individual to another, depending on a variety of factors. Some of the factors that are: 

  • Age
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Other existing eye problems
  • Original reason for the cornea transplantation

To help avoid corneal transplantation rejection, it’s important to follow all post-surgery instructions after surgery. Ask your eye doctor about your own risks for cornea transplantation.

Looking for an eye hospital for cornea surgery? 

Visit Disha Eye Hospitals for cornea-related problems. We have a dynamic team of cornea subspecialty ophthalmologists who are skilled in the latest medical and surgical care of patients with corneal diseases. We offer corneal transplantation and our doctors perform modern lamellar techniques such as DSEK, DMEK and DALK. We also have a microbiology lab to help us manage any case of corneal or surface infections.

We are among the few eye hospitals in West Bengal to have its own eye bank. The eye bank is located at our Barrackpore Branch.  Book an appointment at your nearest branch . 

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