How you care for yourself after you undergo a corneal graft or corneal transplant is just as important as the preparations you undertake before the transplant is performed. You should take extreme caution in doing some activities as this can lead to complications or even to the rejection of the corneal graft.
Here are some things you need to bear in mind after you undergo a corneal transplant:
• Apply the prescribed eye medications as often as required. The success of your procedure may greatly depend on these drugs. Keep the prescriptions that your doctor will provide as you may need to get additional medications later on.
• Make time for your doctor’s appointments. You should not miss these so your doctor can properly assess how you are reacting to the transplant.
• Expect to have distorted vision after the corneal graft. Your eyes need to heal and adjust to the transplant first. Afterwards, your doctor will prescribe either eye glasses or contact lenses for you to help address any vision problem you may experience after the procedure.
• The sutures or stitches on the transplant will not be removed immediately. Their removal will depend on the how fast your eye heals. They may be removed or adjusted as soon as two to three months after the procedure or it may take as long as a year or two after the surgery.
• If only one eye underwent corneal graft and you are legally allowed to drive with the other unaffected eye prior to the procedure, you may resume driving as soon as your eye feels normal or comfortable with driving. Do not attempt to drive if both of your eyes are affected or have poor vision.
• There should be no bending, straining or heavy lifting after the procedure is performed.
• Your resumption of work after the transplant will depend on several factors such as the type of work you do, your comfort level and how well you can see with the eye that underwent the procedure. If you have a desk job and you can see well in the unaffected eye, you can resume working after two to three weeks. However, if you have poor vision and you have a hazardous job, you may need to rest for several months before resuming work. Consult your doctor regarding this matter so he can assess whether or not you can go back to work already.
• Watch out for pain, redness, sensitivity to light, decreased vision, itchiness or feeling as if something is in your eye after the transplant. These may be symptoms that your eye is rejecting the corneal graft. These would usually occur around three months after you undergo the procedure. Once you feel that you are beginning to exhibit these symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately so he can perform the necessary steps to fix your problem.
• Do not believe the myth that the graft will literally fall off if it is rejected. What will happen is that your eyes will lose its clarity and you will revert back to the hazy vision you had prior to the transplant.
• If your corneal graft is rejected, your doctor can prescribe additional intravenous medications or steroid injections to control the rejection.
• At The Eye Practice we manage many patients that have had corneal transplants. It surprises us how few people do not realise that they are likely to need contact lenses or eye glasses after the corneal graft. Some form of vision correction will be required 90% of the time. You should not have a corneal graft if your motivation is to eliminate glasses or contact lenses.
• Finishing on a positive note it is important to realise that corneal transplantation is the most successful human transplant procedure and when done by an expert corneal surgeon most complications can be handled successfully.