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The cornea is a clear covering over the front of the eye. A clear cornea allows light to enter through the pupil so an image is formed on the retina. If the cornea becomes cloudy from disease or injury, poor vision or total blindness may result.
Corneal transplants are done when the clear, transparent "window" at the front of the eye has become clouded from disease, age, injury, or infection. Anyone may need a eye transplant - from babies to the elderly. Corneal transplants can help restore vision when someone has damaged or diseased corneas. Scleral transplants (using the white portion of the eye) are used for reconstructive eye surgery and glaucoma procedures.
Corneal transplantation takes about one hour to perform. The diseased cornea is removed and replaced with the clear cornea that was donated. The new cornea is sewn in place. The patient goes home the same day, and can usually return to work after a week or two. Because the cornea heals slowly, full improvement in vision may take a year or more. The overall success rate of corneal transplantation is between 90-95 percent.