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Hawaii Vision Specialists

Ophthalmology & Optometry located in Hilo, HI

As the outermost layer of your eye, your cornea plays an important role in allowing you to focus. At Hawaii Vision Specialists in Hilo, Hawaii, the expert vision care team provides the highest level of care if you experience cornea problems or need a cornea transplant. You can receive state-of-the-art treatments without having to leave the Big Island. Call to schedule a consultation today.

Cornea Q & A

What conditions cause cornea problems?

Injuries, conditions, and eye diseases can lead to damaged corneas, including:

  • Keratoconus, a condition in which the thinning of the cornea creates a cone-shape instead of dome-shape
  • Scar tissue from injury or disease
  • Previous eye or cornea surgery
  • Fuchs’ dystrophy, which is where the inner layer of your cornea doesn’t work properly
  • Pterygium, which is a tissue growth on the cornea
  • Shingles
  • Keratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea from an infection

In some cases, these conditions can develop gradually, so you may not notice the extent of damage to your cornea until it progresses to the point that impairs your vision.

What treatments are available for advanced cornea diseases?

Laser surgery to reshape your cornea — called phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) — is one type of treatment that may help with recurrent corneal dystrophies, such as Fuchs’ dystrophy and keratoconus. Phototherapeutic keratectomy is a surgical procedure that uses ultraviolet light and laser technology to reshape your cornea. This procedure can potentially postpone the need for cornea transplant surgery.

In some situations, however, cornea transplant surgery is the most effective treatment option. During a cornea transplant, your eye surgeon removes the diseased layers of your cornea and replaces them with healthy cornea tissue from a donor. While it sounds rather serious, with today’s advanced laser technology, cornea transplant surgery typically takes place under local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure.

The team at Hawaii Vision Specialists performs Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK). With DSEK, your surgeon removes diseased tissue and replaces about one-third of your cornea with healthy corneal tissue from a human donor. After DSEK corneal transplant surgery, most people experience a significant vision improvement, although it may take a few months for your eyes to adjust.

In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend a full-thickness corneal transplant procedure to restore your vision. During penetrating keratoplasty (PKP) surgery, your doctor removes the central two-thirds of your damaged cornea and replaces it with a full-thickness corneal draft from a donor. While recovery takes longer than it does after DSEK, the results can last up to 10 years or more.

How is a cornea transplant different from an inlay?

With a cornea transplant, your surgeon removes diseased tissue and replaces it with healthy tissue to reshape your cornea. Inlays, on the other hand, involve implanting a lense into your eye to correct your vision.

Corneal inlays can be an alternative to wearing prescription reading glasses. During a laser surgery that takes just 10-15 minutes, your doctor cuts a small flap in your cornea and inserts a corrective lens into your eye. This allows you to focus up close by increasing the depth of focus in the center of your cornea.

To learn more about cornea transplants, inlays, and other treatments, call Hawaii Vision Specialists to schedule an eye exam today.