What You Need to Know About Endothelial Keratoplasty: A Brief Guide
In the US alone, an estimated 12 million people aged 40 years or older have vision impairment. Of these individuals, two-thirds have impaired vision due to an untreated refractive error.
Corneal disorders, in turn, are some of the most common causes of refractive errors.
The good news is that endothelial keratoplasty (EK) can help correct such eye problems. We rounded up the basic facts you need to know about this procedure, so be sure to read on.
What Is Endothelial Keratoplasty?
Endothelial keratoplasty is a type of selective cornea replacement surgery. It replaces diseased areas of the cornea with healthy donor tissues.
The cornea, in turn, is the clear, outermost layer of the eye responsible for the control, entry, and focus of light. About 65% to 75% of the eye’s ability to refract light is thanks to the cornea.
Unfortunately, eye disorders can damage this integral part of the eye. Some of these include bullous keratopathy, Fuch’s dystrophy, and iridocorneal endothelial (ICE) syndrome. The damage these diseases cause leaves the cornea unable to reflect light correctly.
How Does EK Work?
There are two primary types of EK: DSEK and DSAEK.
DSEK stands for Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty. DSAEK, on the other hand, means Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty.
DSEK involves the manual (by-hand) removal of diseased tissues. By contrast, DSAEK uses automated mechanical devices to eliminate sick tissues.
Apart from that difference, the steps involved in DSEK and DSAEK are pretty similar.
First, the surgeon makes a small incision on the cornea. The doctor then proceeds to remove only the damaged sections of the cornea.
After removing the sick tissues, the surgeon implants the healthy donor tissues. Once they settle in, the doctor then closes the incision, usually using only a single suture.
What Are the Main Advantages of EK?
Before there was endothelial keratoplasty, there was first penetrating keratoplasty (PK). PK, like EK, is also a cornea transplant surgery. The chief difference is that PK replaces the entire cornea, and yes, even the healthy parts.
Because of that, PK requires more preparation and takes longer to perform.
By contrast, surgeons can complete EK faster and also leave healthy tissues intact. Moreover, researchers say that EK yields higher visual rehabilitation.
Who Are Good Candidates of EK?
If you have any of the disorders mentioned above, then you may be a good candidate for EK. The same goes if you have posterior polymorphous membrane dystrophy. Your ophthalmologist may also recommend it if you have congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy.
How Long Does EK Cornea Transplant Recovery Take?
According to experts, you can expect to recover from DSAEK after three to 12 months. This is far shorter than the average recovery period of 2 to 3 years for patients who undergo PK.
During the first month of your recovery from EK, you’ll likely need to use antibiotic eye drops. Your surgeon may also prescribe steroid drops throughout your entire recovery period.
Say Hello to Clearer Vision With a Healthier Cornea
Please keep in mind that corneal damage and disorders can cause permanent blindness. For that reason, you should never disregard symptoms, such as blurriness or cloudiness.
Instead, talk to your doctor about getting endothelial keratoplasty as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get your good eyesight back.
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