Cornea and external eye

Each year Mayo Clinic eye disease specialists (ophthalmologists) treat many people for diseases and disorders of the cornea and the external eye. Highly skilled Mayo eye specialists have advanced diagnostic tools and offer the latest treatments to restore vision or to slow or stop the disease and preserve as much vision as possible. Mayo Clinic eye surgeons offer full-thickness cornea transplant and partial-thickness cornea transplant, depending on which procedure is most appropriate for you.

Partial-thickness transplant

Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) is the most popular cornea transplant technique for diseases of the inner lining of the cornea (endothelium). Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) is a newer technique also for treatment of corneal endothelial diseases. Mayo Clinic eye surgeons use these procedures to help people with blurred and cloudy vision due to problems with the endothelium, most commonly Fuchs' dystrophy.

With DSEK and DMEK, only the innermost layer of the cornea is replaced with healthy tissue from a donor cornea. It is usually done with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.

The advantages of DSEK and DMEK over full-thickness cornea transplantation are:

  • Smaller incision with no corneal stitches
  • Better vision, sooner

Mayo Clinic's ophthalmologists have performed many DSEK procedures and have extensively researched how this procedure improves vision and quality of life and who is most likely to benefit with improved vision.