You had a corneal transplant. There are two ways to do this.
Numbing medicine was injected into the area around your eye so you did not feel any pain during surgery. You may have taken a sedative to help you relax.
If you had a PK, the first stage of healing will take about 3 weeks. After this, you will likely need contact lenses or glasses. These may need to be changed or adjusted several times in the first year after your transplant.
If you had a DSEK, visual recovery is often quicker and you may even be able to use your old glasses.
DO NOT touch or rub your eye.
If you had a PK, your health care provider probably put a patch over your eye at the end of surgery. You can remove this patch the next morning but you will probably have an eye shield for sleeping. This protects the new cornea from injury. During the day, you will probably need to wear dark sunglasses.
If you had a DSEK, you probably won't have a patch or shield after the first day. Sunglasses will still be helpful.
You should not drive, operate machinery, drink alcohol, or make any major decisions for at least 24 hours after surgery. The sedative will take this long to fully wear off. Before it does, it may make you very sleepy and unable to think clearly.
Limit activities that could make you fall or increase pressure on your eye, such as climbing a ladder or dancing. Avoid heavy lifting. Try not to do things that place your head lower than the rest of your body. It may help to sleep with your upper body elevated by a couple pillows. Stay away from dust and blowing sand.
Follow your provider's instructions for using eye drops carefully. The drops help prevent infection. They also help prevent your body from rejecting your new cornea.
Follow up with your provider as directed. You may need to have stitches removed, and your provider will want to check your healing and eyesight.
Call your provider if you have:
The day after your corneal transplant surgery, you will need to go back to your ophthalmologist’s office to have your eyes checked.
The stitches from surgery may or may not need to be removed. This depends on how quickly you heal, the health of your eye, and the type of stitches used.
As you recover from surgery, these are things you need to do to care for your eye:
Call your ophthalmologist if you have concerns or questions about how to care for yourself at home.
Depending on the type of transplant you had and how your eye heals, it can take a year or more to fully recover from this surgery.
The best way to avoid problems after corneal transplantation is to follow all of your doctor's advice, including using all medications as recommended and keeping all follow-up appointments.
At these appointments, the doctor will check your vision in the eye with the transplant. It is not unusual for that eye to have vision that is very different from the other eye. This difference can be very disturbing, but eyeglasses or contact lenses can improve the situation. Vision can change rapidly after corneal transplantation, so it is necessary to visit the eye doctor more often than usual.
You should be aware that in a small number of cases, the new corneal tissue is rejected by the body even though the operation was successful and all medications were taken correctly.
Your doctors cannot predict exactly how your body will respond to a transplant. It is never fully known how the condition that caused your organ disease will affect your new, transplanted organ. The operation itself is complex and the risks remain high for many patients. After the transplant, you may still need to have biopsies, surgeries, other procedures, or readmissions to the hospital.