Cornea Surgery

The doctors at Vance Thompson Vision provide cornea care using surgical and non-surgical treatments and the latest technology. They have the highest levels of training, which means when you choose one of them, your vision is in skilled hands.

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About the Cornea

The cornea is the transparent “window” at the front of your eye that bends light and focuses it on the retina. A smooth, rounded cornea is critical to producing clear vision.

When your cornea is damaged or misshapen, your vision can be distorted and may even become limited. You may also experience light sensitivity, irritation, swelling, and/or glare. Corrective lenses and drops offer relief to most patients, but when those no longer work, it’s time to explore more specialized care at Vance Thompson Vision.

In addition, our team can identify and address dry eye disease. If you have it, treatment will improve your cornea’s health and your treatment outcomes.

Your vision is precious. If yours is impaired because of cornea trauma or abnormalities, contact Vance Thompson Vision to schedule an appointment.

Cornea Treatments

Specialized treatment for your cornea begins with a consultation where we’ll discuss your symptoms, and because many cornea disorders are genetic, we’ll explore your personal health history, family medical history, and perform several diagnostic screenings. Together, these will give your doctor the necessary information to formulate a custom treatment plan. Cornea disorders can be treated surgically and non-surgically.

Corneal Cross-Linking & Keratoconus

Our corneas naturally contain cross-links between collagen fibers in order to maintain their shape and strength. When there aren’t enough of those cross-links to support the cornea, it becomes irregularly shaped, unstable, and weak. This is a disease known as ectasia. The most common form of ectasia is keratoconus. Usually, patients with keratoconus begin to experience symptoms in their late teens and early twenties.

Patients with keratoconus may benefit from corneal cross-linking, a procedure that combines riboflavin with ultraviolet light to promote greater stability of the cornea and halt progression of the disease. In certain patients, cross-linking can be combined with corneal reshaping to not only prevent ectasia progression but also treat damage that has already occurred.

Procedure Time 1.5 hours
Recovery 3-4 days
Follow-up 3 days, 2 weeks, and 1 month

Cornea Transplant

Conditions such as keratitis, corneal dystrophies, corneal swelling, or eye trauma may require a cornea transplant. During the transplant, an ophthalmologist replaces the damaged portion of your cornea with donated corneal tissue, restoring not only your vision, but your active lifestyle as well.

Thanks to advanced technology, there are several types of corneal transplants available. Some require the full thickness of the cornea to be removed while others need only the inner layer to be replaced. Your ophthalmologist can assess your unique eyes and will recommend the best option for you. Choose our doctors with confidence; their expertise in cornea surgery and research is unmatched.

Procedure Time 30-90 minutes
Recovery 6 weeks - 1 year
Follow-up 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

Phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) is a laser procedure developed as an alternative to a full or partial cornea transplant.

Our doctors were involved in the FDA-controlled clinical trials during the development of PTK in the United States. They are very experienced in performing this laser surgery to create a smooth corneal surface, while removing exact amounts of tissue with precision.

Procedure Time 20 minutes - several hours
Recovery 1 week - 1 month
Follow-up 3 days, 2 weeks, and 1 month

What To Expect

Unlike LASIK or cataract surgery, cornea care is usually a process that spans months and even years. Treatment is customized to fit your unique eyes and over time is adjusted based on how your corneas respond to each procedure.

Because there are several variables and levels of cornea care — from specialized contact lenses to full transplants — procedures themselves can last from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.

The first step to addressing a damaged or diseased cornea is a consultation during which extensive testing and measurements will be performed on your eyes. Based on your test results, the doctor will meet with you to discuss the treatments that are available and to help plan the best path forward.

Generally, patients do not experience significant pain after their procedure; however, they should expect their eye to feel irritated and their vision to be blurred immediately after surgery. This is normal and will gradually improve over the days and weeks that follow.

Why Vance Thompson Vision?

As a comprehensive refractive center, Vance Thompson Vision has the expertise, tools, and facilities required to correct an array of vision problems.

This is an especially important feature for patients who need cornea care. From transplants to laser procedures, we have the ability to customize your care and improve your vision.

Committed to Patients

Any surgery is daunting, but eye surgery can be especially anxiety producing. It helps when you can face your cornea treatment with one of our surgeons. While their professional accomplishments and distinctions are impressive, it’s their genuine care for patients that’s talked about time and again.

Committed to Technology

Vance Thompson Vision is committed to technology. Our surgeons are industry leaders chosen to spearhead extensive research. Their commitment to pioneering advanced technology and surgical breakthroughs gives their patients access to the most options and for the best outcomes.

Cornea Patient Ratings & Reviews


May 8, 2024

I was very pleased with my cornea transplant. I followed the after surgery instructions and mine turned out awsome.

October 26, 2023

I was impressed with how those I dealt with at Vance Thompson Vision were friendly, helpful, attentive, competent, and gave me necessary information regarding my vision. This is my second experience with Vance Thompson and I highly recommend them for their working expertise regarding corneal problems.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is corneal surgery covered by insurance?

A corneal transplant, as long as it’s medically necessary, is usually covered by insurance minus any deductibles and co-pays.

What is a corneal transplant?

A common solution for a faulty cornea is a full or partial transplant. During the transplant, a surgeon replaces the damaged portion of your cornea with a donor cornea, restoring not only your vision, but your active lifestyle as well.

How long does it take to recover from a corneal transplant?

It depends whether you had a full or partial thickness transplant. Generally, you can return to work and your usual routine after two weeks. Your vision can improve in a few weeks up to a year or more.

How many years does a corneal transplant last?

Cornea transplants last for ten or more years.

Can keratoconus be cured?

There is no cure for keratoconus. It can, however, be managed successfully.

Do I qualify for a cornea transplant?

Patients with a damaged cornea that prevents acceptable vision are candidates for corneal transplantation. This procedure allows patients to receive clear vision through either a full or partial replacement of the cornea with a donor cornea.

Is cross-linking covered by my insurance?

If your keratoconus has shown progression, most major insurances will cover the procedure, minus your copay and deductible.

Will cross-linking improve my vision?

Cross-linking is meant to halt progression of keratoconus, not to improve vision. However, certain patients may benefit from corneal reshaping to improve their vision.

How long does cross-linking last?

Cross-linking longevity varies by person. The procedure can be repeated if needed, but repeating it will depend on certain findings during your eye exam.

Still have questions?

Questions about cornea health? Call us! Our representatives can answer many common questions, and when they can’t, they’ll put you in touch with a team member who can. If you’re ready, they can also schedule your cornea consultation.

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