Cornea Transplant in South Africa

Treatment and Cost

10

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8 Days Outside Hospital

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About the Cornea Transplant

Cornea transplant surgery is also known as keratoplasty. It is a common surgery and has a good amount of success rate as well. Cornea transplant is required for people who have their corneal tissue damaged due to scarring or bruises. This affects the normal vision, which cannot be further corrected with the help of lens or medication. The cornea can swell thus resulting in distorted vision and it can grow painful, thus destroying the tissue gradually.

The following are some of the reasons why cornea replacement surgery may be required:

  • Failure of the cornea due to a cataract surgery complication
  • Rejection of the graft following a previously done cornea transplant surgery
  • Edema or swelling formed in the cornea
  • Chemical burns as a result of some accident or injury to the eye
  • Complications resulting as a result of LASIK surgery (rare)
  • The irregular shape of the cornea and subsequent thinning of the cornea (due to a disease named keratoconus)
  • In case of any disease of the eye

Cornea transplant surgery involves the replacement of the diseased cornea with a healthy cornea from a donor and it is performed commonly. However, there are some risks of rejection that would always be there. A corneal transplant is a surgery conducted to replace the cornea with a tissue retrieved from a donor. It is one of the most common types of transplants done. The cornea mainly comprises of five layers and it is not always necessary that all the layers are transplanted during the surgery.

In case of full thickness cornea transplant, all the 5 layers of the recipient are replaced with the healthy corneal layers of the donor. Lamellar cornea transplant includes only transplanting some of the layers of a donor’s cornea in the recipient patient’s corneal layers. The layers that are transplanted in this kind of surgery may include the deepest layer, which is known as the endothelium and this is generally known as the posterior lamellar cornea transplant. Some of the included procedures of this type of transplant include Descemet’s Stripping Automated

Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK) or Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). It may also have layers nearer to the surface included, which is referred as anterior lamellar cornea transplant. When only a portion of the cornea is diseased and not the entire cornea, then the lamellar transplants appears to be much more suitable compared to a full penetrating transplant.

How is Cornea Transplant performed?

Cornea transplant surgery is conducted on an outpatient basis, wherein the patient can leave the hospital on the same day of the surgery. In the pre-op or the waiting area, the patient is prepared for the surgery by giving medications, which would relax the patient.

A needle is attached to a tubing, which aids in delivering medications and fluids throughout the procedure to the vein of the patient. Electro leads are attached to the patient’s chest to have the performance of heart monitored at all stages. The above are some of the standard safety precautions.

Depending upon the condition of the patient, local or general anaesthesia may be administered before the surgery. Some of the determining factors can be age, length of the surgery, levels of anxiety of the patients, general health of the patient, and of course, the doctor’s choice. This should be discussed with the patient before the operation.

Once in the operating room, the patient’s eyelids are washed gently and carefully and then it is covered with plastic sterile drapes. Through a plastic tube, oxygen can be occasionally supplied somewhere close to the nose where the tube is placed. Most patients doze off during the procedure, while others may remain slightly conscious.

The instrument used to scrape off the part of the cornea is a circular cookie-like cutter instrument, which is called a trephine. It is employed to have the center of the diseased cornea removed. Next, a button-sized similar portion is cut from the cornea of the donor. With the help of nylon sutures, the tissue of the donor’s cornea is sewn in the recipient’s eye in the already cut section.

The sutures are employed in corneal transplant and they are composed of monofilament nylon and are very tiny, almost one-third the thickness of human hair. The patterns of suturing can be different, depending upon the choices of the surgeon and their training and also on the specific problem that is being addressed. In certain cases, 16 individual (interrupted) sutures can be used, while for others, continuous or running sutures can be used that closely resemble the hemstitch. A combination of both can be used and the results obtained are more or less similar.

With the conclusion of the surgery, a patch along with a shield is applied to the eye for protection. Now the patient is taken to the recovery room, wherein some of the parameters of the body are monitored and the patient is allowed to recover and get back to his or her senses before being discharged off.

Recovery from Cornea Transplant

The cornea has no blood supply, hence the healing of the procedure is slow. Sutures are kept for 3 to 12 months and if the vision is found to be really good, then they are kept in place. They do not cause any discomfort since they are buried but if they break, then their removal is required. At other times, the sutures can loosen. The removal of the sutures is a painless and simple procedure.

Immediately after a cornea transplant, the patients may experience pain, which can be relieved with medications such as Tylenol. The eye will remain patched until the healing of the epithelium is not completed. The surgeon checks immediately after the day of the surgery and advises whether it should be worn any longer or not.

Eye drops should be administered as prescribed and strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks. A pair of glass must be worn for a duration recommended by the surgeon. Watching the television does not cause any discomfort to the eyes. However, contact the surgeon if you experience discomfort in the eye or pain as soon as possible.

Patient Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the health care infrastructure of South Africa / Why should opt for South Africa as a destination for your medical treatment?
Like most countries, hospitals in South Africa are based upon public and private healthcare systems. There are three main levels of healthcare based upon the payment method of the patient.
  • The full paying patients are those who usually prefer to be treated by a doctor working in the private sector. They can also be funded by an external source. Many non-South African citizens also prefer this treatment service.
  • Fully subsidized patients are those who have been referred from a Primary Healthcare Service Hospital.
  • Partially subsidized patients are patients whose costs are subsidized based on the amount of their income.
The public healthcare system has three main centers for health under its wing:
  • Clinics - These are run by trained professionals and nurses. They can serve as the first point of contact for a patient.
  • Community Healthcare Centre - This is a bigger setup, complete with full-fledged services and doctors and nurses.
  • Hospital - A patient usually gets here after a referral from a clinic or community health center. One can also go in for emergencies. A hospital provides various services like performing surgery and treating chronic illnesses.
Hospitals in South Africa are gearing up to tackle major illnesses and to provide better treatment options. The South African government is also working to introduce policies and towards accommodating more patients from all across the world. It is a great country to find affordable treatment options.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Africa? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals
The Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits and certifies most health care organizations and programs all around the world. Joint Commission International Accreditation and Certification is recognized as the global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Africa of the best quality?
Doctors associated with Medigence are of the best quality. We hope to give our patients a pleasant experience and the best doctors we can find. Since South Africa has a lot of requirements in the field of healthcare, the country attracts doctors from all over the world to contribute their services. This can help to ensure that even you receive the best quality of doctors.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Africa?
One can apply for a visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission of India can then help one decide for how long a visa can be extended. This usually differs from person to person. The Medical Visa allows a person to stay for a maximum of six months with a valid visa. After this, one can go to the FRO office ( Foreigner’s Registration Office ) or FRRO (Foreigner's Regional Registration Office) and request for an extension. Do note that the validity of a visa begins on the day it is issued by the High Commission of India and not on the date of departure. Applications for visas will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure.
What support services does MediGence provide in the United Arab Emirates?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
    We give you a transparent and holistic view of the hospital and its infrastructure, accreditation, facilities, and expertise to give you confidence.
  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
    We give a clear and accurate indication of the total cost of treatment including treatment, stay, meals, and other expenses.
  • Visa Assistance
    We provide and help prepare documentation for visa approval and coordinate with the embassy to expedite the visa process.
  • Accommodation Arrangements
    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Africa for medical treatment?
While many cities are striving to create some of the best hospitals in South Africa, Durban, Lenasia, and Cape Town already have some very good hospitals for treatment in South Africa. Located in Durban, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is a reasonable and affordable hospital in South Africa. Life Kingsbury Hospital in Capetown provides a holistic healing environment for patients. One can also opt for the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia. This hospital has been running for nearly 30 years now and various medical facilities can be availed from here.

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