Cornea Care by Lahners
William J. Lahners, M.D., F.A.C.S. received his medical degree from Louisiana State University and completed his Corneal Fellowship program at the prestigious Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis. Dr. Lahners joined an elite group of eye surgeons when he became the first surgeon on Florida’s west coast to perform All-Laser LASIK and the fifth surgeon in the United States to perform femtosecond laser assisted corneal transplantation surgery.
The cornea is the clear, outermost tissue of the eye that functions like a window, allowing light to enter the eye and helps focus images on the retina. It also serves to protect the eye from the environment and helps filter out some of the sun’s most damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.
In order to function properly and provide the best vision, the cornea must remain healthy and clear. When the cornea is damaged either by injury, disease or due to hereditary conditions, it may become swollen or scarred. These scars may cause the cornea to scatter or distort light, resulting in reduced vision, sometimes to the point of blindness. If the cornea becomes cloudy or distorted, the only way to restore sight may be a corneal transplant.
Advances in Corneal Transplantation
There are two types of corneal transplantation: full thickness and partial thickness. Dr. Lahners was a pioneer in the use of the IntraLase femtosecond laser to perform full thickness transplants making the procedure safer, more accurate, and with faster recovery and fewer complications. With a full thickness transplant, the diseased cornea is removed and a full thickness donor cornea is sutured into place.
When the corneal disease is limited to the “endothelium” layer of the cornea, as in Fuchs dystrophy, a hereditary condition, Dr. Lahners may recommend a DSAEK (Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty) transplant. DSAEK is a partial thickness corneal transplant that replaces only the diseased posterior layer of the cornea (the endothelium). This procedure is performed through a smaller incision and involves stripping away the damaged endothelium tissue and replacing it with a thin disc of healthy donor endothelium tissue. Because of the smaller incision, many people experience improvement in their vision within weeks and sutures may not be required.