Corneal Surgery in Houston, TX
The cornea is the center of the eye through which we all see. It’s normally smooth and clear, but injury, disease, and certain medical conditions can make it cloudy and decrease vision. At Eye Excellence, board-certified ophthalmologist Mary T. Green, M.D., Ph. D, F.A.C.S., offers corneal treatments for the residents of Houston, Missouri City and the surrounding areas of Texas.
What is the Cornea?
The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped outermost layer of the eye. It covers and protects the other parts of the eye, including the pupil, iris, and anterior chamber. Its main function is to filter and focus light that enters the eye. It also acts as a buffer against dirt, germs and other particles that can damage your eye.
The cornea is made up of protein and cells; however, it does not contain blood vessels like most body tissues. It receives nutrients from tears and the aqueous humor (a watery fluid) in the anterior chamber and it gets its oxygen directly from the air. The cornea is the only human body part that has no direct blood supply and it is the fastest healing tissue in the body.
Since the cornea is the clear front part of the eye, it must remain healthy to provide clear vision. Minor injuries such as abrasions or scratches on the cornea heal rather quickly as healthy cells patch the injury before any major infection or vision impairment sets in. Deeper scratches or injury to one of the cornea’s five layers can result in a more lengthy healing process and can cause corneal scarring, resulting in permanently impaired vision.
Keratoconus is an eye condition that results in the cornea losing its round shape and becoming more cone-shaped, making it difficult for the cornea to do its job of focusing light.
With keratoconus, the cornea begins to thin and bulge which can lead to blurred vision and light sensitivity. The condition is a slow growing disease that can begin in your teens or 20s and progress throughout your lifetime if not caught and treated early.
Treatment can include prescription eyeglasses and custom contact lenses for mild to moderate cases, and for more severe cases surgery is performed to halt the progression or to replace the cornea altogether through a corneal transplant.
Fuchs’ dystrophy is a genetic eye disease that affects the innermost layer of cells in the cornea called the endothelium. The endothelium is responsible for keeping the cornea clear by maintaining the proper amount of fluid to avoid corneal swelling. When Fuchs’ dystrophy develops, the endothelium prematurely degenerates. This results in the cornea becoming swollen due to excess fluid. The disease usually affects both eyes and gradually causes a decline in vision, resulting in cloudy and blurry vision.
Fuchs’ dystrophy is most prominent in individuals after age 50 and is more common amongst women than men. Treatment may include eye drops to help reduce the excess of fluid in the cornea. For more severe cases and extreme swelling, corneal transplantation may be recommended. Other surgical procedures include Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), where only the damaged endothelium layer is replaced with healthy tissue. These procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis.
If the cornea is severely damaged or scarred, then a corneal transplant may be necessary. This surgical procedure, also called penetrating keratoplasty, replaces the damaged cornea with a healthy one from a human donor.
At Eye Excellence, we have only one priority: to help you achieve better vision for a happier and healthier life. If you live in Houston, Missouri City or the surrounding areas of Texas, contact us today to learn more.