Cornea Surgery

Ophthalmic Partners provides corneal disease treatment for patients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities.


The cornea is the clear, front part of the eye. It is the first structure that light must pass through to enter the eye and be focused on the retina, allowing clear vision. Because the cornea is responsible for about two-thirds of the light-focusing power of the eye, a problem with the cornea often leads to problems in vision. Corneal disease and conditions that damage the cornea include:

  • Corneal neovascularization
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Infections
  • Dry Eye
  • Fuch’s Dystrophy
  • Keratoconus
  • Conjunctivitis

And a number of other disorders. Many corneal conditions can be treated with medications while others may need surgery.


Ophthalmic Partners offers several cornea surgery options:

Full-thickness corneal transplant (Penetrating Keratoplasty):
A full-thickness corneal transplant can be used to treat a wide variety of corneal conditions. In this procedure, a central, full-thickness button of the cornea is removed and replaced by a donor cornea of similar size. The transplanted tissue is typically sutured into position. The full-thickness corneal transplant is an excellent tool to restore vision, but recovery of the best vision can take as long as 12 to 18 months.

Intralase Enabled Keratoplasty (IEK):
This is very similar to a traditional corneal transplant. The major difference is that with IEK, both the diseased cornea and donor cornea are trephined (or cut) with a laser. The use of the laser allows for greater precision for transplant size and wound construction. This custom design may allow for faster healing and less post-operative irregularity in the cornea and does allow for greater wound strength. IEK is not for everybody, and only a detailed exam with special imaging studies of the cornea can determine if a patient is a good candidate for a laser-guided corneal transplant.

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK):
DALK is an advanced technique allowing a partial thickness corneal transplant. In this procedure, the stroma and epithelium are selectively removed, leaving the very thin Descemet’s membrane and endothelium intact. Only donor stroma and epithelium are transplanted during this surgery. Visual rehabilitation with a DALK is similar to a full-thickness corneal transplant at 12 to 18 months. The major advantage of a DALK is the lower rate of rejection as compared to a full-thickness transplant. This procedure is an option only in conditions where the corneal stroma is diseased, but the endothelium is healthy, such as keratoconus, lattice dystrophy, and anterior corneal scarring.

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK):
This is one of the more recently developed techniques in partial-thickness corneal transplantation. DSEK has been a revolutionary treatment for patients with endothelial conditions such as Fuch’s dystrophy and pseudophakic bullous keratopathy. In this procedure, a small incision is made in the patient’s cornea, and only the endothelium is removed. A thin slice of donor cornea consisting of stroma and healthy endothelium is then inserted into the eye and attached with an air bubble. Because of the small incision technique, recovery is greatly accelerated with DSEK. Patients rarely complain of discomfort after DSEK and vision is restored as quickly as 2 to 3 months.

Keratoprosthesis (K-Pro):
K-Pro surgery is for patients with severe corneal disease where multiple traditional corneal transplants have already failed, or there is no chance for transplant success. In this procedure, a synthetic cornea made of a special polymer is transplanted in place of a traditional cornea. This type of corneal transplant can give excellent vision to those previously with no hope of sight. However, medications and antibiotics are necessary for a lifetime Anterior Segment Surgery: Implantable Corneal Ring Segments (Intacs) are small rings that can be implanted in the corneal stroma and are used to reshape the cornea. Intacs have been shown to be beneficial for patients with keratoconus, both in restoring vision and allowing better contact lens fitting. Intacs are implanted through a tiny partial thickness incision in the cornea, allowing for more rapid recovery.

Anterior Segment Reconstruction:
Our surgeons at Ophthalmic Partners specialize in the repair of eye injuries from trauma or surgically induced damage. This repair includes the removal of traumatic cataracts, intraocular lens exchange or repair, and repair of iris defects due to injury.

Cataract Surgery:
We have doctors who also specialize in cataract surgery in those patients with corneal disease as well as repair of cataract-related complications. This includes implanted lenses for the correction of astigmatism and presbyopia-correcting lenses.

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Get Started

Early detection of eye disease is the best defense against vision loss, particularly for individuals over the age of 40. Should you experience any vision problems that could be an indicator of an eye disorder, contact one of our offices in Philadelphia, PA, Bala Cynwyd, PA, Media, PA, or Marlton, NJ, as soon as possible to book an assessment.

The eye doctors and surgeons at Ophthalmic Partners have the necessary expertise and experience to diagnose, manage, and treat complex eye disorders and diseases. Visit us today to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.