Corneal transplant surgery

Partial and full corneal transplants, artificial cornea implants

Corneal transplant surgery – also called keratoplasty -- preserves or restores vision impaired by advanced corneal disease, or when the cornea has been damaged by scarring, trauma, or infection. Duke corneal surgeons have extensive experience treating corneal diseases with cornea transplantation and perform hundreds of corneal transplants each year using the latest corneal transplant advances. Our goal is to recover or preserve your vision and help you return to your daily activities.

When is corneal transplant surgery necessary?

You may be a candidate for corneal transplantation if you have been diagnosed with keratoconus, which causes your cornea to become thin and cone-shaped, or when an inherited corneal dystrophy such as Fuchs’ dystrophy, results in vision-impairing corneal swelling and clouding. You may also be a candidate for corneal transplantation if your cornea has been damaged by infection, scarring, or trauma.

The procedure is typically recommended when less-invasive corneal disease treatments, such as special glasses or contact lenses, and medications to reduce swelling, cannot halt the progression of your corneal disease.

There are several types of corneal transplant procedures to remove damaged, unhealthy cornea tissue. Which procedure is right for you is determined after a comprehensive evaluation that includes sophisticated imaging of your cornea. This allows us to recommend the most effective procedure for your condition. 

Choosing a corneal transplant surgeon

Trust your vision and the health of your corneas to experts with extensive experience in corneal transplant surgery.

  • Our corneal surgeons are ophthalmologists who have undergone advanced training in the medical and surgical management of corneal disease.  We perform hundreds of corneal transplant surgeries each year.
  • We use the latest techniques to remove only the diseased portion of the cornea, rather than all the layers of the cornea, when appropriate. These new corneal transplant procedures retain the structural integrity of your eye, minimize your risk of rejection, quicken your recovery, and improve your vision.
  • We are one of the few eye centers in the region with the surgical skill and expertise to treat advanced corneal disease with artificial cornea implants (keratoprosthesis). This may be an option if you have not had success with standard corneal transplants.
  • Our researchers are studying new ways to use optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technology that allows us to look closely at the cornea and assess the severity of your corneal disease. This helps us make the best treatment recommendations for your condition.
  • We offer patient support services, including educational materials and programs, a low vision rehabilitation program, and a dedicated social worker to help you and your loved ones manage your condition and maximize your quality of life.

Surgical techniques


Your corneal surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your eye and its structures using a variety of imaging devices to help diagnose any corneal disorders or diseases.

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