Corneal Transplant Surgery in Tempe, Ahwatukee and Sun Lakes

We at Ophthalmic Surgeons & Physicians offer corneal transplant surgery, including modern endothelial keratoplasty techniques, such as DMEK and DSEK and the newest laser procedures for full thickness corneal transplants, called “intralase enabled keratoplasty” (IEK). We also perform collagen cross-linking for keratoconus. This is great procedure that can halt the progression of this serious vision-threatening disease, and in most cases can prevent the need for a corneal transplant when the disease process is caught early on and cross-linking can be performed before significant damage is done to the cornea.

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What is a corneal transplant?

A full-thickness cornea transplant (also referred to as penetrating keratoplasty) is a surgical procedure to replace part or all of your cornea with corneal tissue from an organ donor. Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface of your eye that accounts for about 60% of your eye's focusing power. A cornea transplant can restore vision quite successfully in most patients that are good candidates for this procedure.

Are you a candidate for a corneal transplant?

Our trained ophthalmologists at Ophthalmic Surgeons and Physicians are able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine which eye care options are right for you.

Patients who require a corneal transplant are generally those:
  • Suffering from a damaged or scarred cornea, caused by infection or trauma.
  • With chronic eye pain caused by corneal disease
  • Who have Fuchs’ dystrophy, a condition in which the inner lining of the cornea (called the endothelium) slowly diminishes, leaving the rest of the cornea swollen and hazy
  • With thinning or perforation of the cornea
  • With Keratoconus, a condition in which the normal dome shape of the cornea starts to bulge in one or more areas, essentially creating a warped lens and therefore greatly reducing the vision.
  • With clouding or swelling, or scarring of the cornea
  • With corneal ulcers, from infections (viral, bacterial, and fungal), or non-healing abrasions.
How long has corneal transplantation been around? Are they risky?

Eduard Zirm performed the first successful corneal transplant over a century ago, in 1905.  Since then, there have been great advances in surgical techniques used to perform corneal transplant procedures. The procedure has become one of the more common types of human tissue transplants.  The National Eye Institute says that doctors perform about 40,000 corneal transplants in the United States each year.  According to the Eye Bank Association of America, member eye banks in the U.S. provided 85,441 corneas for transplant in 2018; and since 1961, nearly 2 million men, women, and children worldwide have had their sight restored through corneal transplantation!

With a 95% or higher success rate, corneal transplants are considered to be very safe and give patients a clearer vision with restored sight and pain relief associated with corneal disease.

How does a corneal transplant work? 

With eye donor banks providing fresh, healthy tissue, and our advanced ophthalmic surgeons skilled in the newest laser techniques, we are able to use laser procedures to cut and replace the affected cornea, providing an accuracy and precision previously not experienced in the field of ophthalmology. We use those same lasers to cut and remove the new corneal tissue and suture it to the eye. A more precisely cut graft means quicker and better healing, better vision, less likelihood to need a hard contact lens afterwards.

Additionally, when it is determined to be the best option for the patient, we are even able to replace individual layers of the cornea rather than the whole cornea.  In other words, we can replace only the tissue(s) affected by disease.  DSEK and DMEK (Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty) is a revolutionary technique to replace only the innermost and thinnest layer of the cornea.  The DMEK procedure is often times performed by Dr. Konti for Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy.

Dr. Jon Konti is board-certified in ophthalmology and completed a fellowship in cornea and refractive surgery (LASIK, PRK, implantable contact lenses) at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, Texas, a highly respected surgical training program, both nationally and internationally, and is known to be one of the top cornea fellowship programs in the United States. He is trained and specializes in all aspects of ocular surface diseases, as well as all types of corneal transplantation, including DMEK, DSEK, DALK, PKP, and IEK (laser cut PKP). In addition to Dr. Konti’s advanced cornea training, he is also highly skilled in laser-assisted cataract surgery as well as presbyopia and astigmatic correcting implantable lenses.  He enjoyed training residents on techniques he uses to achieve the most successful outcomes. Dr. Konti also takes great pride in helping his patients regain sight by routinely managing the most complex cataract and intraocular lens implant cases.

Dr. Konti is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Arizona Ophthalmic Society, Phoenix Ophthalmic Society, and the Cornea Society.  Dr. Konti is a board member for a non-profit charity mission organization, where he organizes and attends surgical mission trips around the world to perform surgical procedures for those most in need.  He last participated in one recently in the Dominican Republic where he and another surgeon performed over 90 surgeries.  He also participates in a Valley-wide on-call trauma service regularly and attends patients who have suffered acute facial and ocular traumas who are in need of emergent surgery at our trauma centers throughout the Valley.  He has given many presentations, television news interviews, and various newspaper publications on hazards of fireworks and other preventative eye-related topics to enhance public awareness on preventative eye health.  He has participated in numerous research publications and written book chapters on corneal topics, including modern eye banking protocols. Dr. Konti is committed to the very highest standards of patient care and achieving the most successful surgical outcomes and quality of life for his patients.

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