Corneal Transplant Techniques

Complete Corneal Transplants (PK), Laser-Assisted Transplants (Intralase Enabled Keratoplasty IEK and Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Keratoplasty FLAK), Partial Thickness Lamellar Transplants (ALK, DALK)

Corneal transplantation is suggested in a number of corneal disorders including advanced keratoconus, corneal swelling, scars, and dystrophies.

There are a number of different surgical options in corneal transplantation, including full-thickness transplants, partial-thickness transplants, and laser-assisted modalities. At the Cornea and Laser Eye Institute, we prefer the newer Intralase laser-assisted procedures for many of our patients.

With subspecialty fellowship training in corneal surgery and years of transplantation experience, the CLEI team works to give you the best possible option for your surgery and visual outcome.

Learn More About Corneal Transplant Techniques

What are the chances of success?

The overall success rate of a corneal transplant is about 85%. However, there are many factors that influence the outcome. For instance, keratoconus has one of the best prognoses for good vision with a greater than 90% chance of a clear graft.

Other eye diseases such as glaucoma or retina problems may affect the visual result even if the surgery is successful. In addition, the eye must be monitored for signs of graft rejection.

In most cases, vision returns very gradually after surgery. Also, the healing process may vary greatly from one individual to the next. Some patients may enjoy improved vision within a few weeks after surgery; for others, it may take up to a year.

Glasses or contact lenses are still necessary after most corneal transplants. As discussed below, a variety of vision correction procedures may also be useful.

What does surgery entail?

The procedure usually takes approximately one hour and is performed with either general or local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. After the surgery, you will go home with your eye covered by a patch and plastic shield to protect the eye.

When you see us the day after surgery, we will start your medicated eyedrops. You may use drops for a year after surgery to prevent rejection of the transplant. Stitches may remain in the cornea for several years in some cases.

Can vision be further corrected after corneal transplants?

In addition, at the Cornea and Laser Eye Institute, we have a particular interest in visual correction after transplantation. A variety of techniques may help improve vision in patients who have already had a corneal transplant. Such techniques include:

Post Transplant Contact Lenses

Specialized contact lens fitting may dramatically reduce astigmatism and improve vision after corneal transplants.

Excimer Laser PRK

In selected patients, reshaping the transplant using the photorefractive keratectomy technique can improve visual acuity without glasses or contact lenses.


As with PRK, the LASIK technique is useful in some patients after corneal transplantation.

Conductive Keratoplasty (CK)

CK uses radiofrequency energy to reshape the cornea.

Astigmatic Keratotomy: Many patients after transplantation suffer astigmatism. Revising the transplant wound, sometimes with suturing, can diminish transplant astigmatism.

All patients with corneal transplants are different. A full evaluation, therefore, is necessary to arrive at the proper plan for vision correction.

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