There are two types of cornea transplant surgeries: partial-thickness and full-thickness. Mayo Clinic's experienced eye surgeons (ophthalmologists) offer both options.
Full-thickness cornea transplant
In full-thickness cornea transplant (penetrating keratoplasty), also called traditional cornea transplant surgery, the eye surgeon removes the full-thickness of the cornea (all tissue layers), replacing it with a donor cornea.
- Advantages. With advanced laser technology, Mayo Clinic ophthalmologists can precisely match the edges of the donor cornea tissue with the recipient's eye tissue to achieve good vision after surgery.
- Candidates. This type of transplant can improve and restore quality vision for people with cloudy, swollen, scarred or misshapen corneas caused by injury or disease. It is commonly performed to treat keratoconus, a cornea disorder.
Partial-thickness cornea transplant
Mayo Clinic ophthalmologists also offer partial-thickness cornea transplant known as DSAEK, which stands for Descemet stripping with automated endothelial keratoplasty. The surgeon removes only the damaged or diseased inner tissue layers (Descemet's membrane and endothelium) of the cornea, replacing them with healthy tissue from a donor cornea.
- Advantages. DSAEK provides a more predictable visual outcome compared with traditional cornea transplant and results in a smaller incision, leaving the eye structurally stronger after surgery.
- Candidates. This type of transplant can improve and restore good vision for people with cloudy or swollen corneas due to corneal endothelial disease or those with a loss or dysfunction of the inner layer (endothelium) of corneal cells. Cornea surgeons at Mayo Clinic commonly perform this surgery to treat Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy.