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In anticipation of corneal transplant surgery, you are likely to feel anxious and to have many questions. I hope that the following information will answer many of your questions and, in the process, help to diminish your worries.

Cornea transplant 3D imagePlease read this carefully or have it read to you. Make written notes of additional questions that come to mind, so that we can answer them for you. We want your experience with surgery to be as comfortable and as pleasant as possible. Please rest assured that we intend to give you the best possible care.

General surgical planning

In addition to the day of your surgery, a preoperative visit sometime in the two weeks prior to surgery and multiple postoperative visits are required.

If you have medical problems that require the care of a primary care physician, a recent written report from your primary care physician would be helpful. Also, if you have had recent laboratory studies performed, please bring copies of the results with you to your preoperative visit.

Contact lens wearers must stop wearing the contact lens on the eye planned for surgery one week before the preoperative visit.

Preoperative visit

At the time of your preoperative visit, your eyes will be evaluated and plans for surgery will be discussed. We will answer all of your questions fully at this time. You will need to read and sign the forms explaining the alternatives and risks of the surgery. Please bring a list of all of your medications when you come to your preoperative visit.

After you have been seen at Pima Eye Institute, we will direct you to the appropriate facility for any laboratory studies that may be necessary.

Day of surgery

On the evening before surgery, you may carry on a normal evening’s activities. Do not be concerned if you do not sleep normally the night before surgery. This will not interfere with your surgery in any way.


At your preoperative visit, you will be provided with a prescription for an antibiotic drop (either Vigamox or Zymar) and an anti-inflammatory drop. Have these filled at least two days before the day of surgery.

Please use the antibiotic drop in the operative eye four times on the two days before surgery (every 4 hours). Also, use the antibiotic four times on the morning before coming to the hospital (every 15 minutes over one hour). Do not bring the drop with you to the hospital as you may lose it and you will need it on the days following surgery.

Continue to take all of your usual medications on the morning of surgery with a sip of water. Diabetic patients should not take their insulin or oral diabetic medications on the morning of surgery. If you use insulin, please bring it with you to the hospital so that it can be administered following your surgery.

Please do not apply make-up on the morning of surgery.

You should come to the Surgery Center entrance and report to the admitting desk at your appointed time on the day of surgery. Your family may wait for you in the waiting room. It is likely that you will be able to return home approximately 3 hours after your arrival.

In the surgery holding area, routine preparation for your surgery will occur. You will be given mild sedation and an appropriate anesthetic, usually local. Once appropriate preparations have been made, surgery itself will begin and will last anywhere from 40 minutes to one hour or more, depending on the circumstances and requirements in your case. While we always attempt to be as efficient as possible, keep in mind that we emphasize quality, not speed.

A patch and an eye shield will be placed over your eye when the surgery is over. This shield needs to stay in place for the remainder of that day.

Following surgery

At the conclusion of surgery, we will notify your relatives or friends in the waiting room. Usually you will return immediately to the observation area following your surgery.

Once you return home, you may feel like resting for the remainder of the day. If you feel like being up and around, that is fine. Eat lightly at first; do not immediately resume your normal full diet. You may watch television and read. Avoid any heavy lifting.

After surgery, most patients have little pain, but pain medication such as Tylenol (regular or extra-strength) may be used if needed.

You should not remove the eye shield unless otherwise directed. There is no need to administer any eye drops until you are seen the morning after surgery.

Recovering from corneal transplantation surgery

1. Appointments
You will need to be seen for a follow-up appointment on the morning following surgery. You will be provided with a post-operative kit. Please bring any eye medications you have to this appointment.
2. Medications
Use all of the medications as instructed. When using more than one type of drop, all drops may be taken at about the same time, but wait at least five minutes between drops. Do not stop any of the drops until instructed to do so.
Use your eye drops as follows:
  1. Vigamox (antibiotic) – Four times a day.
  2. Prednisolone Acetate 1% (steroid) – as directed. Be certain to shake the Prednisolone Acetate bottle 30-40 times before each administration.
  3. Refresh PM lubricant at bedtime
For the first few days after surgery, it is not uncommon to accumulate some discharge in the eye or around the eyelids. If this occurs, you may clean the eyes by moistening clean cotton eye pads with the eye irrigating solution and use these pads to wipe the discharge from your eyelids.
3. Pain
Extra-Strength Tylenol or a similar type of medication may be used to relieve pain or discomfort as needed. You may feel as if you have an eyelash in the eye or may have a deep intermittent pain for the first few days after surgery. This is normal and will go away.
4. Eye care precautions
The white of the eye may be red for 2-3 weeks following surgery. This is normal.
For the first week after the surgery: During the daytime, wear any pair of glasses, sunglasses or the metal eye shield for protection of the operated eye. During sleep, tape on the metal shield.
Do not rub the operated eye at any time.
You may travel by air or surface transportation as soon as you wish after surgery. Riding in a car is fine, but please check with us before you resume driving.
5. Bathing and hair washing
You may resume normal bathing and hair-washing once the eye patch is removed. For the first week after surgery, when shampooing your hair, let the soapy water run down your back to prevent soap from getting into your operated eye.
6. Emergency care
In the vast majority of patients, recovery is uneventful. However, should you experience any significant pain, loss of vision, or flashing lights in the operated eye, please call us at (520) 229-1554.

We hope that your surgery is as pleasant as possible and that your recovery is uneventful. We welcome your comments and suggestions concerning your experience with your surgery.