You had a corneal transplant. Most of the tissue of your cornea (the clear surface on the front of your eye) was replaced with tissue from a donor. During your surgery, a small round piece of your cornea was taken out. Then the donated cornea was sewn onto the opening of your eye.
Your surgeon may have used a newer technique in which only certain layers of the cornea are transplanted. Recovery is often faster with this method.
Numbing medicine was injected into the area around your eye so you did not feel any pain during surgery. You may have taken a sedative to help you relax.
What to Expect at Home
The first stage of healing will take about 3 weeks. After this, you will likely need contact lenses or glasses. These may need to be changed or adjusted several times in the first year after your transplant.
Do not touch or rub your eye. Your doctor will give you an eye patch to wear for about 1 to 4 days. This protects the new cornea from injury. You doctor may also give you an eye shield for sleeping, showering, or bathing. After you take off the eye patch, you will probably need to wear dark sunglasses during the day.
You should not drive, operate machinery, drink alcohol, or make any major decisions for at least 24 hours after surgery. The sedative will take this long to fully wear off. Before it does, it may make you very sleepy and unable to think clearly.
Limit activities that could make you fall or increase pressure on your eye, such as climbing a ladder or dancing. Avoid heavy lifting. Stay away from dust and blowing sand.
Follow your doctor's instructions for using eye drops carefully. The drops help prevent infection. They also help prevent your body from rejecting your new cornea.
Follow up with your doctor as directed. You may need to have stitches removed, and your doctor will want to check your healing and eyesight.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you have:
Flashes of light or floaters in your eye
Light sensitivity (sunlight or bright lights hurt your eye)
More redness in your eye
Bahar I, Kaiserman I, Srinivasan S, Ya-Ping J, Slomovic AR, Rootman DS. Comparison of Three Different Techniques of Corneal Transplantation for Keratoconus. American Journal of Ophthalmology. December 2008;146.
Blackmon S, Semchyshyn T, Kim T. Penetrating and Lamellar Keratoplasty. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:chap 26.
Martin L, Wang MX, Karp CL, Selkin RP, Azar DT. Corneal surgery. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, Augsburger JJ, et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 4.27.
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.