DSEK stands for Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty and refers to a thin corneal layer called Descemet’s Membrane. This surgery is a corneal transplant or graft of this one layer, rather than of the full corneal thickness, as is done in a standard corneal transplant.
There are three main corneal layers:
- The epithelium, which is kept moist and clean by the eye’s tears
- The stroma, where laser vision correction is done, as it is a very stable layer
- The endothelium, which controls the fluid content of the whole cornea
In addition to these layers, there are two very thin layers, one on each side of the stroma. Bowman’s layer is a tough, protective layer of collagen over the stroma. Descemet’s membrane is beneath the stroma and is called a basement membrane. It connects the stromal cells with the endothelial cells.
Since the endothelium pumps excess aqueous fluid out of the cornea which would otherwise cause swelling and cloudy vision, it is an important layer for clear vision. Descemet’s membrane helps to protect the endothelium. Aqueous fluid provides nutrients to the cornea which has no blood vessels. They would obstruct vision. Oxygen is received by the corneal epithelium from the air.
DSEK Surgery Advantages
DSEK is a newer procedure than a standard corneal transplant. Rather than replacing the full thickness of the cornea, it replaces just the endothelial cells and Descemet’s membrane. The rest of the cornea is still healthy and is left intact.
- By leaving the front layers intact, surface unevenness from the donor tissue is avoided, thus avoiding astigmatism
- DSEK is a less invasive procedure than a standard corneal transplant so recovery is shorter – just a few months as opposed to a year
- Vision improvement is evident within weeks
- No suturing is necessary, and this reduces risk
DSEK is also known as DSEAK for Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Automated Keratoplasty. New technology has automated the preparation of the donor cornea.
If you have Fuchs Dystrophy or need a consultation for this cornea disorder we would be happy to see you at the Takle Eye Group to discuss with you all your medical and surgical options. Please contact us at 770-228-3836.