The cornea – the front window of the eye – is comprised of five layers: epithelium, Bowman’s layer, stroma, descemet’s membrane, and endothelium. Each layer performs a specific task to keep the eye healthy. Injury or disease in the innermost layer, the endothelium, can cause serious complications because it is the one layer that cannot regenerate – they are lost forever. Surgical transplantation from a donor is the only viable option for people with serious corneal disease, dystrophy, scarring or injury. Sometimes the issue isn't the actual cornea, but is something called Pterygium, or surfer's eye.
DSEK involves the replacement of a diseased endothelium with a healthy one from a donor. The procedure involves the creation of two small incisions on the anesthetized and immobilized eye. DSEK offers shorter procedure and recovery times, improved overall comfort levels, less chance for need of glasses or contacts afterwards, and overall greater eye strength due to smaller incisions as compared to traditional corneal transplant surgery.
Patients with diseased or scarred corneas can benefit tremendously from a corneal transplant, a routine, commonly performed surgery in which a diseased cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea. Corneal transplant surgery is a proven, highly successful treatment that restores sight to thousands of people each year.
If 50% or more of the outermost layer of the cornea is damaged or diseased, a lamellar transplant can be performed to remedy the situation. Here Dr. Yee carefully removes the unhealthy tissue and replaces it with a new donor cornea. This treatment is less invasive, leaving you with improved vision and a stronger, more resilient eye.
Pterygium (tur-IJ-ee-um), also called surfer's eye, is an elevated growth on the conjunctiva, the clear mucous membrane that covers the white part of your eye, and sometimes on the cornea. The precise cause of Pterygium isn't known. It seems to occur more in people who live in warm, sunny climates (like Houston), and those who are exposed to pollen, sand, smoke and wind on a regular basis.
For most, the pterygium remains static and is treatable with lubricant drops. In cases where conservative treatment is not working or the pterygium becomes active and invades the cornea, Dr. Yee may perform pterygia auto-graft surgery. In this technique, clarity to the cornea is restored by removing the pterygia and grafting the area with tissue that has been painlessly removed from underneath the upper eyelid. This “auto-graft” (self-transplant) prevents re-growth by filling the space where abnormal tissue could take hold.