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Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK)

If you’re experiencing vision problems due to corneal endothelial dysfunction (the last layer of the cornea), your doctor may recommend Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK). This procedure is a type of corneal transplant that replaces damaged or diseased corneal tissue with healthy donor tissue. Dr. Cohen has performed hundreds of DSAEK procedures, helping restore vision to his patients. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why DSAEK is done, the recovery time, and the benefits of the procedure.

What is Corneal Cross Linking

What is Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty?

DSAEK is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat corneal endothelial dysfunction, which is a condition that affects the innermost layer of the cornea. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface at the front of the eye that helps focus light onto the retina. The corneal endothelium is a thin layer of cells that lines the inner surface of the cornea and regulates the amount of fluid inside the cornea. If these cells become damaged or diseased, the cornea can become swollen and cloudy, leading to
vision problems.

During DSAEK, a small incision is made in the cornea, and a thin layer of damaged endothelial cells is removed. This layer is replaced with a thin layer of healthy donor tissue, which is then held in place with an air bubble. The air bubble helps the donor tissue adhere to the cornea and promotes healing. Unlike traditional corneal transplant surgery, which replaces the entire cornea, DSAEK only replaces the damaged endothelial layer, resulting in a faster recovery time.

What is Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty?


Why is DSAEK Done?

DSAEK is done to treat corneal endothelial dysfunction, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Symptoms of corneal endothelial dysfunction include blurred vision, glare, and sensitivity to light. In severe cases, the cornea may become swollen and cloudy, leading to vision loss.

Benefits of DSAEK

DSAEK is an advanced surgical technique that provides several benefits to patients suffering from corneal endothelial dysfunction. Compared to traditional corneal transplant surgery, DSAEK offers a faster recovery time, as the procedure only replaces a thin layer of corneal tissue. This means patients can return to their daily activities and enjoy improved vision more quickly. Additionally, the smaller incision required for DSAEK reduces the risk of complications and helps minimize discomfort and scarring.

Another key benefit of DSAEK is its high success rate. Studies have shown that the procedure has a success rate of over 90%, meaning that the transplanted tissue typically integrates well and functions as intended. This high success rate can provide patients with greater peace of mind, knowing that the procedure is likely to improve their vision and overall quality of life.

DSAEK damage
Swelling of the cornea

In addition to these benefits, DSAEK also offers a lower risk of postoperative complications compared to traditional corneal transplant surgery. This is because the procedure only involves the replacement of a small portion of the cornea, which reduces the amount of trauma and stress to the eye. As a result, patients are less likely to experience issues such as infection, rejection of the transplanted tissue, or prolonged inflammation. The image to the right shows the significant amount of stitching required for a traditional transplant versus the minimally invasive DSAEK.

DSAEK health
Traditional corneal transplant

Recovery Time After DSAEK

The recovery time after DSAEK can vary depending on the individual case, but most patients can expect to return to normal activities within a few weeks. After the procedure, you will be given eye drops to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation. You may also need to wear an eye patch or shield for a few days to protect your eye while it heals.

In the first few days after surgery, you may experience some discomfort, redness, and blurred vision. You may also notice some fluctuations in your vision as the air bubble used to hold the donor tissue in place gradually dissipates. It’s important to avoid rubbing or touching your eye during the healing process, and to follow your doctor’s instructions for using eye drops and other medications.

As your eye heals, you will have follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your progress and ensure that the transplant is functioning correctly. You may also be advised to avoid certain activities, such as swimming or heavy lifting, for a few weeks after the procedure.

Recovery Time After DSAEK

DSAEK surgery
Post DSAEK surgery

Overall, DSAEK is an effective and safe surgical option for patients with corneal endothelial dysfunction. By replacing damaged or diseased corneal tissue with healthy donor tissue, DSAEK can improve vision, reduce symptoms, and enhance the overall quality of life. With its fast recovery time, high success rate, and low risk of complications, DSAEK is an excellent choice for patients seeking a minimally invasive and effective treatment for corneal endothelial dysfunction. Choosing the right surgeon is equally important as this is an advanced corneal procedure. A fellowship-trained corneal specialist like Dr. Cohen is critical to surgical success.

Descemet's Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty

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