Corneal transplant surgery, also known as corneal grafting and keratoplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged or diseased cornea with healthy tissue from a donor. The procedure can restore vision as well as improve the appearance of the eye.
Laura had always been self-conscious about her eyes. In her teens, she was diagnosed with an eye condition that left her struggling with poor, blurry and distorted vision. She had always worn glasses to help her see, but they never seemed to help much. She tried contact lenses but she was unable to see well no matter what type she tried.
Laura’s diagnosis, keratoconus, is a progressive eye condition in which the normally round cornea (the clear front part of the eye) becomes thin and cone-shaped. This irregular shape can cause blurry vision and glare, and may make it difficult to wear contact lenses.
Keratoconus typically begins in the teenage years, as in Laura’s case, and progresses into the early 20s and 30s. It may affect one or both eyes. In some cases, the condition may stabilize on its own, but in others it may continue to progress and require treatment.
Treatment for keratoconus may include eyeglasses or special contact lenses to help correct vision, or more advanced options such as collagen cross linking, corneal inserts or as a last resort corneal transplant surgery.
The exact cause of keratoconus is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people may be more at risk for developing the condition, including those with certain medical conditions, such as Down syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or those who rub their eyes frequently.
In her early 30’s, Laura’s vision had gotten bad enough that she struggled to do everyday activities like reading or driving. Laura had tried several different treatments for her keratoconus, including glasses and the special contact lenses, but nothing seemed to help. She was becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned about her vision.
Finally, Laura decided to go for an exam to be evaluated. After hours of online research on the procedure, she was nervous but also hopeful that it might be able to restore her vision and improve her quality of life.
Living in Tampa, Florida, and Googling local ophthalmologist reviews, Laura decided to try Dr. Craig Berger at Bay Area Eye Institute in north Tampa. Dr. Berger is a board-certified, cornea fellowship-trained ophthalmic surgeon and he specializes in Keratoconus.
After a short phone call, Laura had her appointment booked. The following Tuesday, she checked in and was given an extensive work up that included many personal and family history questions and eye tests. Some of the diagnostic equipment looked incredibly sophisticated and she was impressed by the technology and friendliness at Bay Area Eye Institute.
During Dr. Berger’s exam, he carefully studied the diagnostic results and closely examined Laura’s eyes using a special microscope with a thin, bright beam of light. The microscope helped him to closely study each microscopic layer of Laura’s corneas. After his extensive examination, Dr. Berger diagnosed her with advanced keratoconus. Dr .Berger discussed the keratoconus findings and because she could not see with contacts and was too advanced for collagen cross linking he recommended a cornea transplant. He reviewed all the potential risks and benefits of a corneal transplant. He also explained the procedure to her in detail, including how long it would take and what she could expect during the recovery process. He patiently answered Laura’s questions and put her at ease because she was a little nervous but also excited at the prospect of finally being able to see clearly again. No longer hesitant, she decided to go through with corneal transplant.
Two weeks later, Laura arrived at the outpatient surgery center for her procedure. She was prepped and given light, local anesthesia to numb the eye. During the surgery, Dr. Berger first made a 7.5 millimeter round incision to remove the damaged cornea. He then carefully placed a donor cornea, which was carefully screened in the opening made by the incision. He then used tiny sutures to hold the donor cornea in place and help it heal properly. The surgery took a couple hours.
Dr. Berger was quite happy with how the surgery went and Laura was able to go home the same day. She followed the doctor’s instructions for her recovery, which included using eye drops and avoiding certain activities that could put strain on her eyes. Dr. Berger also advised her to avoid rubbing or pressing on her eye, and avoid getting water or other substances in her eye.
Over the next few weeks, Laura’s vision began to improve. She could see things more clearly and her eyes felt stronger and more comfortable. After a few months, she was able to do things that she hadn’t been able to do in years, like drive watch TV and read. She was amazed by the difference the corneal transplant had already made in her life.
Laura was thrilled with the results of her corneal transplant. She felt like a new person and was grateful to the donor who had made it possible for her to see clearly again. She also felt grateful to Dr. Berger and his expertise, and the medical team who had performed the pre and postoperative tasks and helped her through the recovery process. She felt like she had been given a second chance at clear vision, and she was determined to make the most of it. She’d always loved to travel, but had been very hesitant the past 10 years due to her vision disability. With her newfound visual clarity, Laura booked a trip to Europe for her and her best friend. She would enjoy the “sites” with an all-new appreciation!
Corneal transplant surgery can be a life-changing procedure for people like Laura who are living with damaged or diseased corneas. It is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions that affect the cornea, including keratoconus, corneal scarring, and corneal ulcers. It can improve vision and restore the eye’s natural shape and function. The success rate is high, however, like any surgery, it does carry some risks, such as infection and rejection of the donor tissue. It can take several months for some patients’ vision to fully improve and some may still need glasses or contact lenses after the surgery.
Overall, corneal transplant surgery can be a very positive life-changing procedure for people with damaged or diseased corneas.
Dr. Berger and Bay Area Eye Institute
Craig Berger, MD opened the Bay Area Eye Institute in Tampa, Florida in 2007, specializing in the treatment of Dry Eye Disease, cataract and cornea transplant surgery.
Along with Dr. Berger, Doctors Gamell and Kerris, treat and manage a large spectrum of eye conditions and diseases at Bay Area Eye Institute. They accept most health insurances and will accommodate quick new-patient appointments.
The practice focuses on patient satisfaction. Their philosophy is to put the patient first, provide physical and emotional comfort, and strive for the highest care possible. Your time and comfort are paramount. They feel that patient education is an important aspect of treatment and will take the time to explain ocular conditions and treatment plans.
The Bay Area Eye Institute facility employs state-of-the-art technology and careful testing is conducted before, during and after treatments and surgeries. They utilize the most modern surgical techniques and technology for cataract, cornea transplantation, and glaucoma and eyelid surgery.
Bay Area Eye Institute is conveniently located in north Tampa and is easy to get to from all Tampa Bay area counties. They are open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday-Thursday and 1:00 to 5:00 on Friday. Call them today and ask about setting up a surgery evaluation with Dr. Berger. (813) 265-6940