The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye covering the iris and the pupil. When disease or an injury have damaged the cornea, functional vision can be impaired and it may be necessary to replace it with a graft of healthy tissue.
A corneal transplant, including DSEK, is performed in order to restore transparency to a damaged cornea. DSEK is a relatively new form of corneal transplantation. The specific type of corneal disease is determined and the best surgical option can then be recommended.
Corneal transplants are performed on patients who have poor vision due to a cloudy or scarred cornea from either trauma, surgery, prior infection or certain types of hereditary eye diseases such as keratoconus.
DSEK (Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty), this procedure involves replacing just the damaged inner cell layer of the damaged cornea, rather than replacing the whole thickness of the cornea. In this technique, a thin piece of donor corneal tissue is inserted through a small incision. The results are a smoother corneal surface with increased speed of healing, as compared to a traditional full-thickness corneal transplant.
Historically, full-thickness corneal transplant surgery has not changed significantly in the last 30 years. A conventional corneal transplant requires long periods of convalescence, sometimes upwards of 12 months for patients to enjoy good-stable vision.
The traditional corneal transplant procedure requires multiple sutures and a lengthy post-operative recovery period until one reaches their final refraction and "best-spectacle-corrected vision". Now, with the advent of DSEK, we are able to make a small 1/4 inch incision in the eye and insert a partial thickness corneal transplant which requires only a single suture and several weeks for good recovery of vision.