Should You Have A Lens Transplant?

If you're suffering from acanthamoeba keratitis, glaucoma, or another eye ailment that threatens to rob you of your sight, your ophthalmologist may have raised the possibility of a lens transplant as an option that could restore your natural vision if your sight is permanently compromised. How do you know whether a lens transplant is the right choice for you? Read on to learn more about the potential risks and benefits of this process.  

When is a lens transplant needed?

The lens acts as the "camera" of your eye -- light and images enter the lens and are translated by special cells, which then send signals to your brain to help you identify what you're seeing. A misshapen lens can lead to nearsightedness or farsightedness, and a diseased or damaged lens may not allow you to see at all. 

However, by taking a donor lens and replacing your damaged lens, a surgeon may be able to partially or totally restore your lost vision. In some cases, you may even no longer need glasses after a successful lens transplant. 

Is a lens transplant the right decision for you?

While these transplants can provide tremendous benefits for those whose natural lenses are too damaged to properly see, there are some risks to this procedure -- and it's important to evaluate all the possible negative consequences (as well as positive outcomes) before making a final decision.

If your lens damage is due to an ongoing or chronic illness that may continue even after the transplant, it's possible that your new lens could be damaged as well. This may make you a less likely candidate for donor tissue, and you may be reluctant to go through the surgical procedure only to need a new lens in a few months or years. If this is the case, it may be best for you to wait until your ailment has resolved itself or reached a sort of plateau before going forward with a transplant.

A lens transplant can also become more complex if you have an existing autoimmune disorder, like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or Crohn's disease. These disorders cause your immune system to malfunction, attacking your own body's healthy tissues rather than focusing on viruses and bacteria. Because any type of transplant will introduce a foreign body into your system, those who are already dealing with a compromised immune system may suffer additional complications. You'll want to speak to both your ophthalmologist and your immunologist to determine whether a lens transplant is a good idea in your situation.

However, if you're otherwise healthy and your eye ailment has resolved itself (without restoring your vision), you'll likely be a prime candidate for a lens transplant, and may once again enjoy a life with perfect vision. Contact a local eye surgeon, such as Todd S. Kirk, MD, for further assistance.