We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Penetrating Keratoplasty?

By Carol Kindle
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Penetrating keratoplasty (PK) is a surgical procedure in which the diseased or damaged corneal tissue of a patient is removed and replaced with healthy corneal tissue from a deceased donor. The cornea is the clear tissue on the front of the eye that allows light to pass through to the back of the eye. If the cornea becomes cloudy or scarred, vision may be impaired.

Several diseases can damage the cornea and leave the patient with blurred vision. Keratoconus is a disease in which the cornea becomes thin and develops an irregular cone shape. The eye doctor, or ophthalmologist, may try to restore the patient’s vision with contact lenses or eyeglasses. If those options don’t help the patient, the eye doctor may decide to perform the penetrating keratoplasty surgery.

Herpes simplex virus can infect the cornea and cause scarring and impaired vision. As the patient’s immune cells invade the cornea to fight off the virus, the cornea may become cloudy. Antiviral eye drops may be used to treat the virus and corticosteroid eye drops may be used to inhibit immune cells from entering the cornea. If the cornea is damaged, the patient may need to have a penetrating keratoplasty to replace the cornea.

Penetrating keratoplasty, also known as a corneal transplant, is usually done on an out-patient basis. The patient will be given either a general anesthetic, or a sedative along with a local anesthetic. During the procedure, the patient’s eye will be held open with a clamp. The ophthalmologist will then use a surgical tool called a trephine to cut a circle in the cornea. Damaged tissue is removed and replaced by a cornea harvested from an organ donor.

The round piece of donor cornea is sutured into place in the recipient’s eye. Corneas harvested from organ donors are stored at an eye bank and are carefully evaluated to make sure the tissue is clear. The organ donors are also screened for hepatitis and HIV to ensure that those diseases are not passed on to the recipient.

After the penetrating keratoplasty surgery, the patient will need to wear an eye patch for a few days to avoid any damage to the new cornea. The eye doctor will also prescribe antibiotic eye drops to prevent any infection. Corticosteroid eye drops may be needed to prevent any immune cells from entering the new tissue.

Stitches in the cornea are easily removed in the eye doctor’s office and may be removed up to one year after the surgery. The patient’s vision should improve gradually over several months. Complications such as pain or blurred vision should be reported to the ophthalmologist immediately to prevent rejection or damage to the new cornea.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.