Cornea Care

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped, outermost layer of the eye. It serves as a barrier against germs and dust, and also plays an essential role in our vision and ability to focus. If the cornea is damaged or diseased the vision can be affected. The Cheyenne Eye Clinic is fortunate to have on staff a fellowship trained corneal specialist, Dr. Jennifer Nottage, who treats corneal disorders.

What are common symptoms of corneal disease?

Your cornea usually heals itself quickly after most minor injuries or infections. But during the healing process, you might experience symptoms like burning, pain, tearing, blurred vision, extreme sensitivity to light, foreign body sensation, and redness.

What are common corneal conditions?

There are various conditions that can affect the cornea and require treatment. Some of these include dry eye syndrome, keratoconus, pterygium, viral infections, trauma, recurrent corneal erosions, and corneal dystrophies such as Fuchs’ Dystrophy and Anterior Basement Membrane Dystrophy.

How are corneal conditions treated?

Most corneal conditions can be treated medically with eye drops, ointments, pills, contact lenses, amniotic membranes, etc. On occasion, office procedures or surgery may be recommended to help improve your symptoms. Office procedures may include the insertion of punctal plugs for dry eye or removal of foreign bodies. Surgeries can include pterygium removal and corneal transplantation.

What is a corneal transplant and who is a candidate for having one?

Corneal transplantation is a surgical procedure whereby the damaged cornea is replaced with donated corneal tissue. Corneal transplantation may be recommended for patients with keratoconus, corneal edema (swelling), corneal dystrophies (such as Fuchs’ dystrophy), or certain types of corneal scarring due to infections/trauma.

There are different types of corneal transplants including full-thickness corneal transplants and partial thickness corneal transplants. The type of corneal transplant recommended for your corneal disease will depend on the area of the corneal that is involved. A Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK) is a full thickness cornea transplant replacing all the layers of the cornea. A Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty/Descement’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK/DMEK) is a partial thickness transplant of the inner surface of the cornea. A Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) is a partial thickness transplant of the front surface of the cornea. A Boston Keratoprosthesis is an artificial corneal transplant. Each type of corneal transplantation involves different amounts of time in the OR and variable recovery periods. Your surgeon will recommend the best type of surgery for you and your corneal condition.