What is cornea?
The Cornea is the transparent layer at the front of the eye, which contributes to 2/3rd of the eye’s optical power, and also plays a large role in clarity of vision.
Infections or immune reactions in the cornea are referred to as “Keratitis”. When the infection penetrates to cause breakdown of the intact layers, it is often referred to as a “CORNEAL ULCER”.
These are usually accompanied by loss/reduction of transparency of the cornea, and hence the primary complaint of a patient presenting with central keratitis would be blurring of vision.
In the case of infections, appropriate anti-infectives are given in the form of drops with or without oral medications, to arrest the infectious agent in its early stages. Occasionally, the keratitis may heal with the formation of a scar which may cause persistent hazy vision. Depending on the amount of vision affected, extreme cases may even require a corneal transplant.
Cornea Transplant (Keratoplasty)
The cornea is the only structure of the eye that can be successfully transplanted for visual restoration.
In this, the blood of the deceased donor is first screened for transmissible diseases like HIV/HCV etc. After this the donor cornea undergoes a “Specular Microsocpy” which is a test to analyse the health of the cells of the tissue. Based on the result, the donors can be seggregated for various uses,
A THERAPEUTIC KERATOPLASTY is one that is performed for patients with fulminant cornea infections which have not come under control with drops, or which have potential to spread deeper and damage the entire eye.
In this procedure, the diseased cornea is replaced with a donor cornea for the primary purpose of controlling the infection. The patient may occasionally require a second surgery for visual correction.
OPTICAL KERATOPLASTY is a corneal transplant that is solely done for the visual function of the patient.
Keratoplasties can further be divided into full-thickness or Partial-thickness (LAMELLAR) surgery. In full thickness or Penetrating Keratoplasty, the entire diseased cornea is excised and replaced with donor tissue of full thickness of the corneal button.
LAMELLAR surgeries are advanced surgeries, where only the damaged tissue is replaced. i.e. either only the front of the cornea or the back of the cornea. This basically means that one donor cornea can be used for 2 different surgeries and help 2 individuals gain sight !
Dr Kareeshma Wadia has done a superspeciality in this field and spent 2 years in Bangalore at Narayana Nethralaya Superspeciality Eye Hospital to master the art of these surgeries.
We cannot emphasize more on the need to donate your eyes, and not bury/burn them. Eye donation can be done within 6 hours after the death of a person. All you need to do is contact your nearest eye bank/ the hospital in which the death has occurred and they will do the needful.