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Questions for your surgeon before a corneal transplant

Here is a list of questions to ask your surgeon prior to a corneal transplant. It was compiled by Dr Bezalel Schendowich, OD, FIACLE and incorporated into the NKCF's Corneal Transplant Surgery booklet. The booklet can be obtained from Keratoconus Australia.

What are the most important questions you wished you had asked your surgeon before your surgery?

1. Who can I talk to who has had this surgery?

2. How can I contact other patients who have undergone this surgery for support and general advice when the doctor is not available?

3. What should I bring with me to the hospital?

4. How long will I be hospitalized?

5. How can I prepare for my hospital stay?

6. Can you give me a full description of what will take place during the surgery, barring any problematic developments?

7. Do you use local or general anesthetic?

8. What might be the side effects of the anesthesia?

9. How does follow-up care proceed after surgery?

10. Can you describe for me the overall road to recovery? How long will my eye be swollen?

11. What kind of discomfort can I expect?

12. What are the possible complications of this procedure? Cataracts?

13. How long do the stitches remain and what is the procedure for their removal?

14. When do you remove stitches and why?

15. How much vision can I expect to have after the operation?

16. How long would it take to have useable vision from the operated eye?

17. What are some possible complications to watch out for, both serious and benign?

18. What should I do if I cannot contact my surgeon in some emergency?

19. What about swimming, bathing, showering, shampooing after my operation?

20. Will I need special eye protection?

21. Will I be limited in my daily activity after the operation?

22. Are there bodily motions or actions that I should refrain from for some period of time after the operation (because of the possibility of causing problems for the healing of the graft or because of other ill though benign effects)?

23. Will I need assistance around the house?

24. How long until can lift heavy objects?

25. When will I be able to return to work?

26. Can more surgery be needed after the transplant?

27. What are the chances of rejection and what are the signs?

28. What are the roles of each of the medications you will be prescribing for me to use after the surgery?

29. Explain the use of steroids and suggest alternatives

30. How dangerous are the steroid drops?

31. How can I tell if the transplanted cornea is a success?


Several points contributed as answers to the question:

What are the most important pieces of advice for the care and well being of your grafted cornea, which you have received since your operation?

1. Arrange for EVERYTHING beforehand: babysitters, frozen food, audio
books, etc

2. How to cope with the side effects of the surgery: dizziness from the anesthesia, eye pain...Signs of possible rejection: RSVP (redness, sensitivity, vision changes, pain)

3. Too much light sensitivity (really bad pain) after the transplant is not normal; excess tearing is not normal.

4. Stitches may be uncomfortable, but report any undo sensation to the surgeon.

5. Protect your eye by wearing an eye shield or clear glasses.

6. BE CAREFUL; in fact, be overprotective.

7. Don't get soap in your eye.

8. Don't do anything that can potentially cause the eye to get knocked.

9. Don't rub your eye.

10. Don't over do it when you are tired: rest.

11. Don't overwear contact lenses on the transplanted cornea.

12. Remain vigilant and react to any possible sign of rejection.

13. Use a plastic shield inside and wrap around sunglasses outside.

14. Have someone look after you for at least the first three days - it may turn out to be unnecessary, but arrange for it beforehand anyway.

15. Watch the steroids, they do funny things to your body.

16. Don't be in a hurry to remove your stitches.

17. Talk to others who have had the surgery.

18. Be prepared for lifestyle changes (driving, work effectiveness).

19. Have family with you for doctor's visits, so that they will also be able to ask questions, record the answers, and participate in your recovery.