Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty

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Dr. Swan and Dr. Shin, our fellowship-trained corneal surgeons, perform many different types of complex corneal surgical procedures. This information is provided to help you better understand the basics of DSEK surgery.

Over the last several years, advances have been made in corneal surgery. For patients who have an abnormal endothelial function, the best surgical procedure is now DSEK – Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty. In this procedure, we are able to replace the abnormal inner endothelial layer of the cornea without performing a full corneal transplant.

DSEK is an outpatient procedure. The surgery typically takes about 30-45 minutes to complete and there is no discomfort during the surgery. After the procedure, the eye is patched overnight. It is very important for the patient to stay in a position with their face pointing up toward the sky as much as possible, for the first 24 hours after surgery. It is also important that the patient not rub the eye at all for the first two weeks after surgery. We generally advise the patient to discontinue eye rubbing as much as possible indefinitely after DSEK.

Visual improvement after DSEK is somewhat variable but the cornea generally begins to clear within 1 – 3 weeks and most patients are substantially better by 8 – 12 weeks, although, many people continue to gradually improve up to one year. Most patients have significantly improved vision following DSEK. Frequently the glasses prescription will change after surgery requiring a new pair of glasses 3 – 6 months post-op.

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