• Any harm in delaying a corneal transplant for an opacity?


    Question:

    My sister has just been diagnosed with corneal opacity (a clouding or scarring of the normally clear cornea). Her doctor says nothing can be done about it other than having a corneal transplant. Given the part of the world we reside in (sub-Saharan Africa) it may not be possible for some time due to financial concerns. Is there anything that would happen if the transplant isn’t done soon?


    Answer:

    If a corneal scar is large and in the center of the vision or causing enough distortion to impede the vision, a corneal transplant can be performed to remove the scar and replace it with clear corneal tissue. In most cases, the scar is stable and unchanging and there is no urgent time requirement to perform the transplant. You can perform it now, in 5 years, or never. The vision may not improve without the transplant, but you are not damaging your eye by postponing surgery.

    If the transplant is being done to remove an active infection or to prevent perforation of the cornea, these are time-sensitive issues that would warrant an urgent transplant. Another exception is for young children who are still developing their neural connections in the brain. In these patients, a transplant may need to be done sooner rather than later to prevent the onset of amblyopia (poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during early childhood).


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