DSAEK (Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty) is a type of corneal transplant that involves replacing only the damaged section of corneal tissue with healthy donor tissue, rather than replacing the full cornea. In the past, full thickness corneal transplants, called penetrating keratoplasty (PKP), were the only method of replacing the diseased endothelial layer of the cornea.
DSAEK partial thickness corneal transplants are the new standard in corneal transplant surgery. With DSAEK, smaller incisions are made, fewer sutures are used, and recovery time is reduced, allowing quicker restoration of visual acuity.
Dr. Matthew Robinson and Dr. Jason Mayer are our fellowship-trained corneal specialists who perform this procedure. They routinely perform DSAEK in our state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center located on-site at our Fort Collins facility.
Who is a candidate?
- Patients who have a corneal disease in the endothelial layer (inner surface) of the cornea are the best candidates for DSAEK (for example, Fuch’s dystrophy).
- The cells that allow nourishing fluid from the inside of the eye to flow into the cornea are endothelial cells and when these cells become diseased or damaged the cornea may become cloudy.
- This cloudiness can impair vision to the extent that requires surgical intervention.
How does DSAEK work?
- The procedure starts with the patient lying under a specially designed microscope with a topical (eye drop) anesthetic applied to the eye.
- This ensures no pain during the procedure.
- There are two parts to the procedure.
- First, the unhealthy endothelial cells are removed, as well as the Descemet’s membrane, through a small incision in the side of the cornea.
- Next, the healthy donor tissue from the eye bank is inserted in its place.
- The entire procedure takes less than an hour.
- The patient is sent home and returns the next day for a follow-up appointment.
Speak to your corneal specialist at the Eye Center to learn more about this and to see if you are a candidate.