DMEK, which stands for Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty, is a partial-thickness corneal transplant. DMEK allows surgeons to only graft the endothelium (the innermost layer of the cornea), allowing for a cleaner surgery and better vision with quicker healing.

What does DMEK Treat?

DMEK treats conditions such as Fuch’s dystrophy that affect the endothelial, or innermost, layer of the cornea.

How does it work?

DMEK, unlike PK, only replaces the endothelium (the innermost layer of the cornea.) By narrowing down the treatment area, surgeons are able to provide better results and less risk of complication. This procedure allows you to keep healthy tissue and only transplant the unhealthy tissue.

The Procedure

Before you can undergo DMEK, your surgeon will need to secure a healthy donor tissue that matches the tissue that will be removed from your eye.  You will be given topical anesthesia. Your surgeon will create small incisions in your cornea. The donor tissue will be stained so your surgeon can see it when inserting it into your eye. Once inserted, the donor tissue will be secured with sutures. Sometimes, an air bubble is used to keep everything in place.

After surgery, you will lay down for 30 to 90 minutes. You will be examined one hour after surgery to ensure everything is still in the right place. You will then be able to go home.

The Recovery

Once home, you will be instructed to stay laying down as much as possible, except to eat and use the restroom. You should lie on your back for as long as the air bubble is in your eye, which is usually around 48 hours.

You should stay well-hydrated and avoid rubbing your eyes. You should also not fly or travel to higher altitudes. You will be put on topical antibiotics for around a week and steroids for one month.

Would you like to know more about DMEK? Be sure to contact Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology with any questions! Call us to schedule your appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you born with keratoconus?

While the definitive cause of keratoconus is not known, it is believed that the level of risk someone has to develop the disease is present at birth.

Can a living person donate a cornea?

In most cases, a donor cornea comes from the deceased. However, a donor may be living in very rare circumstances.

Can the cornea repair itself?

The cornea can heal small scratches or abrasions on its own. However, deeper injuries may lead to permanent vision problems.

Can you go blind from a corneal transplant?

In some cases, the body can reject a corneal transplant. This occurs when the bodys immune system mistakenly attacks the donor cornea. Medical attention is needed in these cases.

How long does DMEK surgery take?

DMEK surgery usually takes about 30-45 minutes to complete.

How long does it take your eye to heal after surgery?

It will take 6-8 weeks for your eye to heal following DMEK surgery. It is normal for patients to experience eye redness, discomfort, teariness, and light sensitivity immediately following surgery.

How much is corneal transplant surgery?

The cost of corneal transplant surgery may vary depending on different factors. Please contact our office today for more information regarding pricing.

How quickly can keratoconus progress?

For some people, keratoconus can progress slowly for up to 10 years or more. For others, it can progress very quickly.

What happens if a corneal transplant is rejected?

If a corneal transplant is rejected, then medical treatment or another cornea transplant may be required

What happens if Keratoconus is left untreated?

If keratoconus is left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. This is why it is so important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

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