Corneal Transplant Surgery FAQs

How long will the surgery take?

You will be in the operating room for 1-2 hours, but the actual surgery will take less time.

Will I have discomfort?

Following surgery, your eye most likely will be red, irritated, and sensitive to light. You may experience increased tearing and a slight discharge. Discomfort usually is controlled with Tylenol or another brand of acetaminophen during the first few days after surgery.

Will my eye be covered?

Your eye will be covered with a patch and a metal shield the day of surgery. Your glasses may not fit over the patch and shield. Your surgeon most likely will remove the patch and shield at your follow-up appointment the next day. You must wear the shield over your eye while sleeping for some time after surgery.

Will I have sutures (stitches)?

Most people will have sutures, although you probably will not be aware of them. Some sutures may be removed as early as one month after surgery. Others may remain for years.

Will I need eye drops?

You will need to use eye drops and sometimes eye ointment to quiet inflammation and prevent graft rejection.

Do I need to restrict my activities?

Your nurse and surgeon will talk to you about activity restrictions. You should avoid any activities that could involve a direct blow to the eye, such as contact sports.

Will my vision change?

Vision usually is blurred after surgery. It gradually improves as healing takes place. As the eye   heals and the sutures are removed, the shape of the cornea changes. Therefore, your surgeon usually will wait between 3 and 12 months before prescribing a new lens for your glasses. If needed, a contact lens may be prescribed.

When can I drive?

If the vision in your other eye is adequate for driving, you may drive after the anesthetic has completely worn off. This may take up to 24 hours. Your surgeon may recommend you wait several days before driving. Remember, you must have someone to drive you home from the hospital as well as someone to bring you back the next day for your follow-up visit.

When can I return to work?

This depends on your work activities, your comfort, and your vision. Some patients with desk jobs can return to work within a few days. Other people can be off work for a few weeks.

When can I stop worrying about the chance of graft rejection?

The risk of corneal transplant rejection is low. However, it is possible to have a rejection at any time – even many years after your transplant surgery – and it is important to know the signs of rejection. A corneal transplant can be repeated, usually with good results. However, the overall rejection rates for repeated transplants are slightly higher than for the first transplant.

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