Corneal surgeries are designed to address a variety of medical eye conditions. They are mostly used to correct vision loss but also help to correct corneal swelling, infections, or irregularities. Here’s what you need to know about Corneal surgery offered at EyeSight Hawaii in Honolulu and Maui Hawaii.
Keratoconus and Collagen Cross-Linking in Hawaii
Keratoconus (KC) is a weakening of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) which is due to genetics and eye rubbing. It often starts in the early teen years with decreased vision and often goes undetected. If the vision is not correctable with glasses then keratoconus screening should be done by a corneal specialist. The screening is very quick involving a few scans that can easily detect KC and prevent a lifetime of poor vision. Since KC usually affects both eyes, early detection is very important as it is now treatable.
Keratoconus is often treated with collagen cross-linking, a treatment that involves specialized eye drops and the use of ultraviolet light to strengthen the cornea. This process can help to prevent the progression of keratoconus and preserve vision.
EyeSight Hawaii was the first to begin offering Collagen Cross-Linking in Hawaii over 5 years ago immediately after the FDA approval.
What is a Cornea surgery?
The cornea is a dome-shaped, clear layer of tissue found at the front of the eye. This layer is necessary for focusing light so that a person can see clearly throughout the day. Unfortunately, this area of the eye can become damaged in a variety of ways, causing pain and vision loss.
Not all cornea surgeries are the same. Depending on the reason for the procedure, different surgeries may be tailored for the individual. Common surgeries include full-thickness corneal surgeries, partial-thickness surgeries, and what is known as an endothelial keratoplasty. All of these treatment options are usually performed on an outpatient basis.
Cornea surgeries are typically quick procedures. Most surgeries can be done in approximately 1 hour and patients are allowed to go home the same day of the surgery.
The Benefits of a Corneal surgery
A cornea surgery can restore vision. This is one of the main reasons the procedure is performed. Cornea surgeries can address both genetic and environmental eye damage.
Not all corneal injuries will cause permanent damage. Deep injuries caused by instruments or sharp edges can result in partial vision loss. Professional treatment is needed in these cases.
Genetic causes include hereditary diseases such as corneal infections, Fuchs’ dystrophy, and Graft vs. Host Disease. These diseases impact the eye to varying degrees but can limit visual function.
Corneal surgery is known to have multiple benefits depending on the cause of the eye issue. A cornea surgery can reduce bulging in the cornea. This can affect vision and, in some cases, the appearance of the eye. surgeries can also eliminate eye pain associated with corneal damage.
Modern Procedure Benefits
A full-thickness surgery used to be the only option for treating corneal disease. Regardless of the reason for a given surgery, this procedure was used to address multiple corneal issues. With customizable procedures now available, individuals with previously unsuccessful surgeries can receive help for vision loss, bulging corneas, and light sensitivity.
New approaches allow doctors to provide more precise treatment. Some of these methods include grafting techniques, which are used to minimize surgical time. Thinner tissue grafts are now used to accelerate the recovery time.
In some cases, patients can see dramatic improvements to their vision in less than a month.
The Initial Consultation
Vision loss is not always due to corneal damage. Certain forms of vision loss may not be related to the eyes at all. To better understand the symptoms that are affecting one or both eyes, a cornea evaluation in Honolulu or Maui is crucial.
During a consultation, the patient is asked a series of questions in addition to undergoing an eye exam. Our eye doctors will ask about current medications, any personal history of eye disease, family genetics, and environmental circumstances that may have caused damage to the corneas. This information is used to get a general sense of the patient’s symptoms and background.
An eye exam is performed for a more detailed assessment of the patient’s condition and treatment needs. This corneal evaluation is administered by a medical professional and requires a high-powered microscope.
The exam is used to detect subtle signs that may indicate the cornea is not receiving enough oxygen. Doctors examine the top layer of the cornea to check for discoloration, as well as any abnormal tearing.
Eye exams are not painful and can be done in a relatively quickly. Patients may be asked to administer eye drops before looking into a lens. If the patient is wearing contact lenses, they will be asked to remove them for the exam.
Regardless of the type of surgery needed, patients will need to prepare for surgery as directed by their eye doctor. In most cases, finding a donor takes only a few days.
Patients may be asked to remove their contacts several days prior to the procedure. They may also need to adhere to dietary restrictions. These specific rules depend on the patient.
Cornea Surgery: How it Works
There are several types of cornea surgeries currently available. Full-thickness is one of the procedures that is most often used for corneal conditions. Endothelial surgeries, deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, and keratoprosthesis are other surgeries used for more specific medical issues.
Patients are usually given general and local anesthesia to numb the area around the eye. This also helps prevent unnecessary eye movement.
Depending on the condition, the surgery can take less than an hour to complete. Highly specialized surgery such as keratoprosthesis focuses on the ocular surface and severe corneal disease. These procedures may take longer to perform.
After the surgery is completed, patients are asked to sleep on their back while the eyes heal. An eye shield may be used overnight as well. It is common for the eyes to feel itchy for a couple of days after the procedure, but rubbing them can cause damage and it is important to protect the area.
It is perfectly normal to have blurry vision initially. Sometimes, blurred vision can last for a few weeks or months after surgery, but it will subside with time. Work can typically be resumed within one to two weeks after the surgery, depending on the patient’s job.
What Patients Say
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on the patient. A cornea surgery can remove the entire thickness of the cornea or just part of it, depending on the condition.
A donor does not have to have the same blood type as the recipient patient for this particular surgery. Almost anyone can donate their cornea if they follow the FDA guidelines.
Usually, the answer is yes, but it does depend on the patient. Once the initial eye exam is completed, your doctor will have a better understanding of what is and isn’t possible in your case.
A cornea surgery may be able to help address corneal ulcers. This is usually done after other medical treatments have already been proven ineffective.
In most cases, cornea surgeries are covered by insurance, but this can differ depending on the plan. Other considerations include the severity of the condition and the type of surgery required.
For advanced forms of cornea disease,the cost of the procedure without insurance is anywhere between $13,000 and $28,000. The best way to find an accurate estimate is to book an initial consultation. This can provide more information about the condition as well as the surgery options.
Contact Us Today
Doctors John Olkowski, Kristin Hirabayashi, Michael Dash, and Monika Malecha are highly skilled in a variety of techniques for advanced eye surgery. For a comprehensive overview of treatment options at EyeSight Hawaii in Maui and Honolulu, Hawaii, please contact us today at 808-746-3869.