Corneal Transplant

Full and Partial-Thickness Corneal Transplants

Singh Vision offers full and partial-thickness corneal transplants for patients suffering from corneal diseases or those who’ve sustained corneal burns or lacerations. After surgically removing the diseased or damaged portion of the cornea, our fellowship trained ophthalmologist, Dr. Jorawer Singh uses world-class technologies like femtosecond laser assisted penetrating keratoplasty or pre-loaded, pre-cut DMEK tissue to replace the old tissue with a donor cornea. 

“Going into my transplant procedure I felt comfortable that Dr. Singh was the right surgeon for me and I'm very pleased with the results! I can see better out of my right eye now that I have been able to in years. I recommend Singh Vision for anyone looking to get the best treatment for their eyes.


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Understanding Corneal Transplants.

The cornea is the transparent front part of your eye and accounts for ~70% of the focusing power of your eye. If your cornea is damaged by trauma, infection, or disease, it limits vision and may lead to blindness. Corneal transplantation techniques have improved significantly over the last decade and we now have options to restore vision including precision cut femtosecond laser assisted penetrating keratoplasties.

Different Types of Corneal Transplant

Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty

DMEK is a revolutionary technique that replaces only  corneal Descemet’s membrane and endothelial cells. It is used for patients with Fuchs’ Endothelial Dystrophy or other causes of endothelial failure. DMEK can restore a cornea back to its normal state with excellent vision.

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty

DSEK replaces the innermost layer of the cornea. It is used for cases of endothelial failure where DMEK is not possible.

Left: A fresh penetrating keratoplasty with sutures in place. RIGHT: a healed graft after sutures have been removed. Ready to undergo refractive surgery.

PK (Penetrating Keratoplasty)

This full thickness corneal transplant type replaces the whole cornea and is used for patients with conditions like Keratoconus. Femtosecond Laser Assisted Penetrating Keratoplasty reduces healing time to 6 months from 12-13 with traditional methods. Limbal relaxing incisions combined with refractive surgery after suture removal can eliminate any remaining astigmatism and help patients achieve a remarkable 20/20 Uncorrected Vision after PK! 

Above: Note ZigZag femtosecond laser cuts in both donor and host corneas. These are precision matched and placed in advance of the transplant procedure. Zig zag areas of apposition increase the surface area of contact between donor and host by an order of magnitude. This minimizes induced astigmatism & accelerated healing, also by an order of magnitude. Below: A Post-Op Ocular Coherence Tomography image shows how tightly the Zig Zag incisions of donor and host "click" into place.

You may be a good candidate for a corneal transplant if you struggle from:

Questions? We've got answers.

Are cornea transplants painful?

No. Corneal transplantation is minimally invasive and in any case you will be asleep. You will experience some discomfort after the procedure but this is manageable with over the counter meds like Tylenol or ibuprofen.

What's a partial-thickness graft?

We now only replace the parts of a cornea that are diseased. Patients with Fuchs  Dystrophy need only partial thickness DMEK or DSEK transplants. This allows for a faster visual recovery with less risk of rejection.

What is a full cornea transplant?

Patients with keratoconus, corneal injuries, lacerations, or burns have damage to all layers of their cornea and therefore require full thickness penetrating keratoplasties (PKs) which have a 6-13 mth recovery period.

What success rates are seen?

DMEKs have a ~99% success rate because only a few microns of tissue is transplanted. We rarely see a DMEK rejection, but of course it can happen. DSEKs transplant more tissue so success rates are lower (85-95%). PKs act more like regular solid organ transplants and fail over time; but a 10-15 year lifespan is norma and with good care, some PKs survive >30 yrs! A failing PK is easily replaceable.

How soon can I return to work?

Most patients return to work within a few days. Vision is blurry for some time after so only one eye is done at a time. It is OK to resume regular activities 1-2 weeks post-op but you may need to avoid vigorous activities for longer depending on your surgery type and speed of recovery. As you may expect, DMEKs heal much faster than PKs as they are a much less invasive type of procedure. 

Why do I need a transplant?

Corneas are well engineered, hardy organs. Patients in need of transplants have tissues that are failing for genetic reasons, or after facial/ocular trauma, or rarely after a traumatic or complicated eye surgery that damaged the corneal endothelium. Regardless of the cause, corneal transplant procedures are the safest types of human organ transplants and have the best success rates in transplant surgery. 

Does insurance cover transplants?

Absolutely. No one gets a corneal transplant for fun. This is a medical procedure done for medical indications. That being said the femtosecond laser assisted component of PKs is not covered by insurance and will be an out of pocket cost to you of $2000.

What if I don’t have insurance?

We have been able to help patients restore their vision without insurance. We work directly with you to make that possible but please understand donor tissue is quite pricey! We can discount our fees but Eye Banks rarely agree to donate tissue. 

How long does it take to recover?

Everyone is different, but you will likely be able to return to work or your normal routine in about 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. You will need to avoid doing any vigorous activities for 4 weeks, or until Dr. Singh determines that you are healing nicely.

What consult time works best?


The elegance of Singh Vision.

Singh Vision is housed in a beautiful facility with crisp, clean lines,  abundant natural lighting and a stunning view of the Virginia countryside. The moment you enter our reception area, you’ll experience the difference of Singh Vision.

Start with a consult.

Your initial visit with Singh Vision will be covered by insurance and include a full workup using multiple imaging modalities employing the latest technology. You then meet Dr. Singh to discuss if a full or partial-thickness corneal transplant is indicated, along with other information regarding the health of your eyes.


See your best life.

To find out if you qualify for a corneal transplant, book an assessment with us. Don’t delay — now is the best time to live your best life. Our patients always ask why they waited so long to enjoy clear, crisp vision.