If you are reading this you might be aware that you have an issue with the cornea part of your eye or what is commonly referred to as the outer surface of the eye. The cornea is a clear, living tissue on the most front part of the eye. In order for your brain to interpret vision light must pass through this clear cornea and meet the retina. The retina is where the image information will be interpreted and sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

Through disease or eye injury the cornea can actually be damaged. If the damage is severe, vision can even be obstructed and light will not be able to properly pass through and meet the retina. We have various surgical options for dealing with cornea problems so it is important to correctly understand your exact cornea problem. Many cornea problems are solved through a cornea transplant, where an ophthalmologist replaces the damaged cornea with a clear DONOR cornea.

Did you know?

United States ophthalmologists perform more than 40,000 corneal transplants each year. (National Eye Institute)

How can DSAEK help you?

DSAEK is an amazing new method of performing corneal transplants. This procedure works for patients whose corneas begin to cloud over due to endothelial dysfunction (this surgery cannot be performed on a scarred cornea, or an irregularly shaped cornea). The endothelium is a layer of pump cells on the back surface of the cornea inside the eye. These cells pump fluid form the cornea to keep the tissue compact and clear. If the pump cells are not working the cornea swells and becomes cloudy. The most common cause for endothelial dysfunction is an inherited disease called FUCHS dystrophy. In DSAEK, instead of transplanting the full thickness cornea, only these diseased pump cells are replaced. Unlike conventional corneal transplant surgery known as penetrating keratoplasty (PKP), the DSAEK procedure utilizes a much smaller surgical incision and requires no corneal sutures. This usually results in more rapid visual rehabilitation for the DSAEK patient and also reduces the risk of sight threatening complications that may occur with the PKP procedure such as intraoperative expulsive hemorrhage or post operative traumatic wound rupture.

DSAEK is indicated for those patients who have corneal pathology located on the posterior aspect of their cornea known as the endothelial layer. The endothelial layer of the cornea is a monolayer of cells attached to a basement membrane called Descemet’s membrane. A healthy endothelial layer consists of small, hexagonally shaped cells with a density of 2500 to 3000 cells/mm2.