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When Is A Cornea Transplant Necessary?in Boston, MA

The outer eye is made up of a clear tissue called the cornea. Your cornea is what light refracts through before it’s translated by the eye and brain into images you can see.

When your cornea becomes damaged, it can affect your ability to see. The good news is that if your cornea becomes damaged, you can get a transplant.

But what kind of damage does it take to need a cornea transplant? There are a few conditions and cases that make a cornea transplant necessary. Keep reading to learn more!

What is a Cornea Transplant?

A cornea transplant is when a patient’s corneal tissue is removed and replaced with donor tissue. This tissue is first tested to make sure it is safe for use. As with all surgical transplants, there is always a small risk of rejection.

In some cases, a cornea transplant is the only way to restore a patient’s vision, making it worth the risk.

The Nielsen Eye Center offers two advanced corneal transplant procedures, DSAEK and DMEK. These procedures are faster and less invasive than a traditional cornea transplant.

Corneal Trauma

Trauma from injury can cause significant damage to your cornea. An injury doesn’t only include accidents, either.

An infection may make the removal of part of your cornea necessary to stop it from spreading. Your cornea also can be damaged by eye surgery gone wrong.

While rare, eye surgery can sometimes cause significant trauma to the cornea that worsens over time. Often, the only way to restore tissue loss from these injuries is through a corneal transplant.

Fuch’s Dystrophy

Fuch’s Dystrophy is a disease that causes your cornea to swell. When the cornea swells, it can cause visual problems and significant discomfort.

The disease usually progresses slowly over many years. It often doesn’t present symptoms until a person is in their fifties or sixties.

Sometimes, medication can ease symptoms, meaning no further treatment is necessary. But if the disease progresses enough, the only way to treat visual symptoms is with a corneal transplant.

Bullous Keratopathy

Bullous keratopathy can occur because of a symptom of Fuch’s Dystrophy. It also sometimes occurs in older patients following intraocular surgery.

It is characterized by swelling and blister-like pockets appearing on the surface of the eye. These blisters can pop and cause more damage to the cornea.

Medication can treat the swelling. If there’s significant damage, a corneal transplant is the most effective treatment option.


Like Fuch’s Dystrophy, keratoconus can develop over a period of years without any noticeable symptoms. Keratoconus occurs when the structure of the cornea is weakened.

Because the structure of the cornea becomes weakened, it begins to slowly bulge. This takes the cornea from a round shape to a more conical one.

Unlike Fuch’s Dystrophy, keratoconus is usually detected in patients as young adults. The change in eye shape distorts the patient’s vision more and more over time.

At first, the patient may only need a stronger prescription. Sometimes glasses cannot fully correct vision, which is when a cornea transplant becomes necessary.

Not sure if you or a loved one could need a cornea transplant? Schedule an appointment at The Nielsen Eye Center in the greater Boston area to find out!

Contact The Nielsen Eye Center at 617-471-5665, where one of our Patient Advocates is waiting for your call. It’s time to make your eye health a priority!

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