Why do people need a corneal transplantation?

A doctor can recommend corneal transplantation only after a careful examination of the eye. The most common reasons for performing the operation are:

  • Injury to the eye — Sometimes an injury will damage the cornea so severely that it will not heal correctly. The cornea plays an important role in vision, so even a small injury to it can greatly reduce vision. The doctor might recommend a corneal transplant to improve vision or, in more serious injuries, a transplant might be the only way to close the wound in the eye.
  • Medical conditions — Some infections of the eye can cause damage to the cornea that will not heal. There are also certain medical conditions that make the cornea very thin or cloudy, or cause other problems that can only be treated by replacing the cornea.
  • Pseudophakic bullous keratopathy — Some people experience corneal swelling and clouding after cataract surgery. This is known as pseudophakic bullous keratopathy and is a common reason for corneal transplantation.
  • Keratoconus — Sometimes the cornea is thin and weak, and the normal pressure inside the eye makes the cornea bulge outward in a cone shape. This is called keratoconus, and it causes severe vision problems. If these problems are very troublesome, the doctor might recommend a corneal transplant. More information is available in the Keratoconus fact sheet available from the Cole Eye Institute.