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The transparent cornea is the outermost layer of the eye. The function of the cornea is to hone the vision for better visual acuity and clarity. A unique characteristic of the cornea tissue is that it does not contain blood vessels for nourishment or protection from infections. Due to the lack of blood vessels, the cornea is commonly regarded as a sensitive tissue that is prone to both disease and damage. In some cases, the only option for a patient with a damaged or diseased cornea is corneal transplant. Here is some information about the risks of corneal transplant.
While a corneal transplant is a relatively safe procedure, there are still a few risks that could pose a serious threat to the health of a patient. Before you undergo a corneal transplant, it is in your best interest to become familiar with the risks.

Risks of a corneal transplant

  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Cataracts (clouding of the lens)
  • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eyeball)
  • Rejection

After the corneal transplant, there is a chance that your body may reject the donor tissue. In about 20 percent of all cases, the donated corneal tissue is rejected. To prevent and control rejection, your physician may prescribe steroid eye drops. While the risk of the rejection of the donor tissue decreases with time, this risk never goes away completely. If you believe your body is rejecting the donor tissue, you should seek medical attention immediately. Some signs of rejection include increasing pain, decreasing vision, greater sensitivity to light, and increasing redness and swelling of the eye.

Warning Signs of Complications

After your corneal transplant, you should be able to go home the same day. Most patients experience soreness of the eyes and must wear gauze or an eye patch for about three or four days. Patients should not rub their eyes and may have to use eye drops and oral medications to promote healing and to prevent infection or rejection of the donor tissue. As you recover from the corneal transplant, you should keep a look out for these symptoms of complications:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Chills

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better the outcome will be for your health and vision.
A corneal transplant is a safe procedure, but no procedure is without its risks. For more information about the risks of a corneal transplant, contact us here at the Southwestern Eye Center.