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About Your Cornea Transplant

It is normal for you to have some concerns or anxiety about your transplant surgery. If you have additional questions or concerns not addressed here, please contact your nurse or doctor.


How long must I wait for a donor cornea?

Thanks to the generosity of the people who live in Colorado and Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank has eliminated its waiting list. Nearly 70 percent of the people in Colorado are eye, organ and tissue donors and around 65 percent of Wyoming residents have signed up. This means that your surgeon can schedule your transplant when it is convenient for you. While we cannot guarantee that a suitable cornea will be available on that date, we are able have a cornea available in about 98 percent of cases. 


Will I find out who the donor is?

No. Both your identity and the identity of the donor are confidential. You can, however, correspond with your donor's family. This is done through the eye bank. Click here to learn more about writing to your donor's family. Donor families consistently say that it provides a sense of closure when they hear from transplant recipients. It also gives you the opportunity to thank them and their loved one for the precious gift of sight. 


Will I have limitations after surgery?

Yes. Your new cornea is a fragile and precious gift, so it is important to follow all your doctor's instructions. Most people have limitations that include avoiding heavy lifting, bending or straining actions. You may also have to limit time spent reading or watching TV if your eye begins to feel uncomfortable. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on limitations.


What are the chances of rejection?

Cornea transplants are highly successful, and most episodes of rejection can be reversed if you act immediately. You must watch for the four danger signs. If any of them occur, call your doctor immediately. DO NOT WAIT. The signs can be remembered by the initials RSVP:

Redness: Your eye will be red for the first few weeks after surgery. If the redness increases, or if at any time in the future your eye turns red, you may have a problem. Notify your doctor.

Sensitivity to light: It is normal for your eye to be sensitive to light for a few weeks after surgery. However, if your eye becomes more sensitive to light and you have to squint to be comfortable, call your doctor.

Vision loss or clouding: After your bandages are removed, pick an object in your house such as a clock or picture. Look at this object every day with your opposite eye covered. Your vision will vary from day to day as you heal; but if the object appears more cloudy or less distinct than it has been, call your doctor.

Pain: Small, temporary twinges of pain are normal. If your eye hurts or throbs steadily for more than a few hours, call your doctor.