Corneal transplant in Iran: All you need to know
The hard conjunctiva in front of the eyes changes the transparent layer of the cornea. The cornea provides a clear vision and helps focus light into the eyes, making vision possible. It also protects the eye from air pollution. To have a clear and accurate vision, the cornea needs to be healthy, smooth, and dome-shaped.
A damaged cornea disturbs focusing light into the eye and leads to a glared vision. To treat this problem, some primary treatments are advised by some ophthalmologists. Yet, if the cornea cannot be healed or repaired, a cornea transplant is a solution.
The history of corneal transplant in Iran goes back to a long time ago. Iran has not only been a pioneer in performing such procedures but also has earned a great reputation in this specialty, devising new transplantation methods over the recent years.
The country is now home to many renowned eye surgeons, well-equipped transplant centers, and eye banks. This has made Iran a perfect choice for those who are looking for an effective corneal transplant abroad. Before going any further into this subject, let us elaborate more on the procedure itself.
What is a corneal transplant?
A corneal transplant, also known as keratoplasty, is the procedure through which the damaged part of the cornea is replaced with similar parts of a normal clear donated cornea. This treatment helps people with a highly scarred or swollen cornea restore their clear vision.
Depending on the damaged area, variable options of corneal transplant surgery are available. If the exterior part or middle layers of the cornea are damaged, those parts can be replaced. If not successful, then the entire cornea may have to be replaced with a donated one.
Causes of corneal diseases
In general, injuries, eye diseases, and infections may harm or scar the cornea. Previous eye surgeries can also lead to the impaired cornea.
In some patients, the cornea loses its fine curved shape and its uniform thickness deforming to a cone shape cornea (Keratoconus). These changes of the shape of the cornea bring the light out of focus and result in a blurry and distorted vision.
Many patients may prefer treatment using contact lenses. Of the early surgical treatment for the keratoconus is placing Intacts into the cornea and flattening the steep part of the cornea. Intacts is the commercial name of a medical device that is inserted into the cornea to restore its healthy shape. This treatment is also called a corneal implant. However, in some cases the disease becomes so significant that would require other treatments.
In some patients, cells of the inner layer of the cornea (Endothelium) lose their function. Endothelium pumps out the excess fluid of the cornea and keeps the cornea transparent and clear. An unhealthy endothelium gradually diminishes the vision. This condition can also be treated by eye transplant surgery.
Common corneal diseases which can be cured by a corneal transplant
How is corneal transplant performed?
This surgery does not require the patient to stay in the hospital overnight. Before the surgery starts, eye drops and medications are applied to numb the eye and help to relax the patient.
In the beginning, an eyelid speculum is used to keep the eye open as well as lubricating liquids, to prevent dryness.
Depending on the surgery type, a circular part or a very thin layer of cells from the cornea is separated by surgical devices and scissors. A portion of the donated cornea that matches the same portion of the affected cornea is cut and replaced. The new tissue then is stitched by suture and secured into the place.
In inner partial transplantation, the impaired endothelium is removed and the inner layer of the healthy cornea is replaced on the back surface of the cornea.
To help the implanted layer to stay attached, an air bubble is injected into the eye to push this new layer into the place.
The last step of the surgery is taping a shield over the patient’s eye to keep it safe and covered. The patient is monitored after the surgery to make certain that he or she has recovered from the anesthesia to go home safely and with full consciousness.
Different corneal transplant options
Based on the patient’s specific needs, the surgeon will discuss and choose how to transplant the healthy donated cornea. Depending on what part of the cornea is damaged, that part can be replaced. Yet, for those whose cornea is severely damaged, a full-thickness corneal transplant is unavoidable.
In some persons, the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) or the middle layer (stroma) is damaged. For these patients, only those layers are removed and are replaced, which is known as a partial cornea transplant.
In another procedure called endothelial keratoplasty, the innermost layer of the cornea (endothelium) is removed, then the new tissue is put in place, leaving much of the cornea untouched.
Another option is the femtosecond laser corneal transplant. In this method, the doctor uses a laser to remove and shape the cornea, while the surrounding tissue is not manipulated.
Preperations for corneal transplant surgery
Taking some drugs such as aspirins which thins the blood may need to be stopped before the surgery. Primary physical exams or perhaps other tests may be required to confirm that the patient is healthy enough to have the cornea transplant surgery.
The surgeon and the patient discuss such matters before the surgery and the doctor listens to the patient’s complaints and expectations.
The surgeon, also, seeks the patient’s medical history and tells the patient if he or she should continue with taking any medicine until the time of the surgery. If you are to get your surgery done in Iran, we will receive your medical records at first. Your case will be reviewed by one of our top surgeons and your treatment will be arranged accordingly.
Corneal transplant recovery and post-op care
The day after the operation, a visit to the doctor is necessary for the eye to be checked. The patient will be instructed by the doctor about post-operative care. Depending on how fast the patient is healed, the health of the eye, and the type of stitches used, the doctor will decide when the stitches need to be removed.
After a corneal transplant, you may experience itchiness, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, irritation, and swelling for around 2 to 3 weeks. The full recovery can last from 1 month to 1 year. By full recovery, we mean being able to see clearly again.
If the patient finds out that he or she has a cloudy or hazy vision, it could be a sign of rejection of the new tissue. The ophthalmologist needs to be informed straightaway if such symptoms are seen.
As the patient is recovering from the surgery, taking eye drops is necessary according to the doctor’s intructions. The treated eye must not be rubbed. The doctor will prescribe if any medicine or painkillers needed. The patient must wear eyeglasses or an eye shield to protect his or her eye for a time after the surgery.
Why corneal transplantation in Iran?
Apart from cosmetic procedures like rhinoplasty, for which Iran’s ranked at the top, the country has also shown a vast potential in eye treatments. Patients from all over the world and countries in the region travel to Iran to benefit from highly advanced clinics, skilled medical practitioners and affordable surgical treatments.
More than 6,000 corneal surgeries are performed in the country per year. “Cornea transplant is done in parallel with some of the most developed countries around the globe,” said Dr. Mahmoud Jabbarvand, a famous cornea surgeon and the former head of Farabi Eye Hospital in Iran.
Iranian surgeons and eye care professionals are among the best in this part of the world. They have developed some of the most advanced procedures and standards, using no or minimal surgical incision. For example, “femtosecond laser” and “artificial cornea” are among the newest corneal transplantation methods used in the world, which have also been tailored by the Iranian surgeons in the recent decade.
Furthermore, patients not only can receive their eye treatments with the highest possible quality but also can enjoy the attractive prices this country offers. This factor turns out to be one of the most appealing reasons people decide to travel to this land for.
Cost of corneal transplant in Iran
Depending on where the cornea transplant surgery takes place, costs can vary considerably. Clinical services contribute to corneal transplant cost as well. As eye surgeries are quite important, it is wise having comprehensive research and obtaining adequate information beforehand.
Corneal transplant is an outpatient procedure in Iran and normally costs around $2,000 to $3,500 for each eye. In the US, the cost of the same procedure, in case it’s not covered by health insurance, ranges from $13,000 to $27,000. Considering the risk of organ rejection, the ultimate cost can increase further.
To learn about the exact cost of corneal transplant in Iran, as well as any other information, please contact us via the online form or chat box.