DMEK + DSEK (Partial-thickness Cornea Transplants) – Salt Lake City, Lehi, Utah

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About Corneal Transplants

Whether you have an inherited eye disorder or a trauma has caused damage to your cornea, you will need to seek treatment at some point to restore your vision. At Waite Vision, our board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Aaron Waite, is skilled to perform DMEK (Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty) and DSEK (Descemet's stripping endothelial keratoplasty) on patients suffering from damaged or diseased corneas to help restore clearer vision. These surgeries, considered partial thickness transplants, replace the affected or diseased portions of the cornea with donor tissue while keeping the outer layers of the eye intact, allowing for greater visual recovery. Our Lehi, UT facility, Waite Vision, is equipped to perform corneal transplants on-site in our AAAASF accredited surgical facility. To find out which of these procedures is most suited for your condition, we invite you to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience.

Ideal Candidates

The best candidates for DMEK or DSEK corneal transplants are patients who suffer from damage to the cornea either from a traumatic injury or disease. In the later stages of Fuchs' dystrophy, DMEK may be suggested based on what stage it is in. When the constant swelling and fluid buildup in the cornea impact vision to the point of significant loss, corneal transplants can relieve a patient of the eye pressure and improve vision without a full corneal transplant.

Procedure Technique

During a consultation prior to treatment, Dr. Waite will determine the best method for your corneal transplant. The two procedures are performed slightly differently, as described below.

The DMEK procedure is performed in less than an hour (about 30 minutes) in an outpatient setting. Your Dr. Waite will numb your eye with a local anesthetic before making the first incision to remove the existing endothelial layer from the weakened cornea. Once the endothelial layer is cleared, he will insert the donor cornea (ten microns of the inner layer). The new cornea will be properly positioned with the use of gas (air bubble) until it unfolds. You may or may not need a suture to close the incision as it sometimes seals on its own.

As an outpatient procedure, Dr. Waite will perform your DSEK procedure in about 15 – 20 minutes. You will lie flat on your back as we do our best to make this procedure as comfortable for you as possible. After a local anesthetic (numbing drops) desensitizes the eyes, the damaged or diseased portion of the cornea (about 100 microns of the inner layer) will be eliminated. The incision will be very small, and the donor tissue will be placed on the back of the innermost layer of the cornea. Dr. Waite will use air to push and reposition the donor cornea into place. Once the tissue adheres to your cornea, it should resume normal functionality. The incision will then be closed with 1 – 2 sutures if it does not seal up on its own.

What to Expect

On average, a DMEK patient will obtain 20/25 vision within the first six months after the surgery. Many of our DMEK patients report that they have better vision 1 – 2 months after surgery. While there is always the possibility of donor tissue rejection, recent studies show that DMEK has a 0.7% donor tissue rejection rate. If the first DMEK procedure does not take, the donor tissue will be removed and substituted with a replacement tissue.

After DSEK surgery, you should be able to see better within 2 – 3 months. By the fifth or sixth month, you can expect to have 20/40 vision. The DSEK has a very high success rate with only 9% of donor tissue rejection after the first year. If the donor cornea is rejected, the procedure can be performed again. It is important to keep all follow-up appointments with your eye care provider so that your progress can be documented and monitored to avoid complications after the surgery.

Procedure Cost

Corneal transplants are often covered by insurance companies. Waite Vision will work directly with your insurance company to determine your benefits and whether you will have any out-of-pocket costs. Any expense that you will be responsible for will be discussed with you prior to the scheduling of your surgery. Our support staff can help you afford your portion of the surgery with financing options. Please contact Waite Vision to learn more.

Repair & Revise Your Sight

If you would like to learn more about your opportunities for correcting your vision with DMEK, DSEK or other corneal transplant procedures, please call our Lehi, UT office. We look forward to meeting you. At Waite Vision, we are continually striving to better the lives of our patients by renewing their sight. We hope to serve you in restoring the vision that you deserve.

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