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What are Corneal Implants?

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  • Written By: Marco Sumayao
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Corneal implants are small lenses or other refractive devices inserted into the eyes to correct vision problems in humans. Conditions corrected by corneal implants include myopia, hyperopia, and presbyopia. In addition, the implants can restore proper vision to patients who suffer from severe corneal damage as a result of surgery, such as cataract removal. Possible side effects of using corneal implants include nausea, eye infections, and increased glare.

People suffer from corneal damage as a result of infections, physical injuries or diseases. These can cause serious damage to the cornea, resulting in scars that may block or distort the natural entry of light into the eye. This interaction with light causes errors in an individual's vision. Corneal implants correct for these errors either by bending light to adjust for the eye's irregularities or by adjusting the curvature of the eye itself.

The popularity of corneal implants comes from the procedure's reversibility. As opposed to procedures like laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery and keratectomy, in which corneal tissue is permanently removed from the eye, corneal implants are grafted onto the eye and can easily be removed by doctors without causing any irreparable damage. This is often seen as a safety feature for many patients. If there are any problems after the surgery or if the patient is not satisfied with the clarity of his vision, removal of the implant will restore his eyesight to pre-surgical clarity.

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Corneal implants are also a cost-effective solution in cases where patients require cornea repair. Severe damage to the eye can result in the laceration and removal of corneal tissue, which will need to be replaced with tissue from a willing donor. The procurement, testing, maintenance, and grafting of the corneal transplants can prove to be expensive. There is also a risk that the patient's system will reject the donor tissue, increasing complications. Doctors can bypass all these potential issues by using artificially-created corneal implants.

The side effects of corneal implants are often a result of poor procedure and faulty manufacturing. In some cases, surgeons can unintentionally damage the implants during the procedure, which can cause discomfort for the patient afterward. Errors during the grafting process can leave the eye open to infection and lead to serious medical issues. In other cases, the implants themselves might be miscalibrated and cause more vision problems for the patient. In the event of miscalibration, the procedure is reversible and easily corrected.

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