Corneal Transplants

The cornea is the clear dome-shaped “window” located in the front of the eye. Behind this clear window lies the iris, or colored part of the eye. A corneal transplant – also known as a corneal graft, keratoplasty, penetrating keratoplasty, or endothelial keratoplasty – involves replacing the diseased portion of the cornea with a clear, healthy donor cornea from an eye bank. The surgery lasts 1-2 hours and can be performed under general or local anesthesia.

Corneal transplantation has a long and successful history in the United States, having been routinely performed here for over 50 years. It is the most successful of all tissue transplantation procedures, with more than 50,000 corneal transplants performed in the United States annually.

Corneal transplants are done to improve vision, relieve pain, and protect the inner structures of the eye. Corneal conditions such as keratoconus, Fuchs’ dystrophy, and corneal infections can cause clouding, scarring, and distortion of vision. Replacing the damaged cornea with clear, healthy donor tissue can restore impaired vision. Until recently, the most common form of corneal transplantation was penetrating keratoplasty, in which all five layers of the cornea are removed and replaced with donor corneal tissue. Thanks to advances during the past 15 years, however, only the portions of the cornea that are no longer working are replaced.

The cornea specialists at UAB Callahan Eye use the most advanced technology and are known for working together to treat the full range of both common and complex corneal problems. From cataract and corneal surgeries to highly specialized contact lenses, Callahan features the expertise, experience, and cutting-edge equipment needed to treat the most challenging corneal conditions. Patients come here from around the world and nation because we don’t just treat eye disease – we empower patients to take control of their eye health.

Callahan is the only full-service facility in Alabama specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of the eye and one of only a few worldwide that is entirely devoted to advancements in ophthalmology. That reputation is supported by 16 operating rooms dedicated to eye surgery and a 24/7 eye emergency room that is the region’s only Level I Ocular Trauma Center. More than 15,000 surgeries are performed at UAB Callahan Eye each year, and we conduct more reconstructive eye procedures than any other facility in the world.

Our facility is home to more than two dozen ophthalmologists, many of whom are named among the top doctors in their fields nationally. Callahan is widely recognized for excellence in patient care, having consistently earned prestigious awards from health care consulting group Press Ganey, and in 2017 Callahan was named as one of the “100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

Callahan also is known for pioneering developments in surgical instruments, devices, and procedures used by ophthalmologists across the globe. As part of the UAB Medicine academic medical center, Callahan is actively involved in ongoing research and clinical trials. Many of our ophthalmologists have received funding from prestigious research organizations and institutions and collaborate in clinical care to bring the latest in scientific discovery to our patients.

Care Providers


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