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Question:
I have no vision in my right eye due to amblyopia. I've been told I need a corneal transplant on my left eye due to herpes keratitis scarring. Can I transplant the cornea of my non-functioning right eye to my left? 

Answer:
I am sorry that you have no vision in your right eye from amblyopia. I suspect that when you say "no vision" you mean that you have limited vision as compared to your left eye as that would be the usual situation. I am also sorry to learn that your left eye has had herpes keratitis with scarring that has limited your vision enough that your ophthalmologist has advised a corneal transplant for what should be your best eye with best vision. You have a challenging visual problem.  

In answer to your question, "yes" you can have the cornea from your amblyopic right eye transplanted to replace the scarred cornea on your left eye. There are a few caveats that your ophthalmologist can explain to you in more detail. Your amblyopic right eye should have moderate to severe visual loss from amblyopia. If your vision is relatively good or can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses to relatively good vision, I would not advise operating on the amblyopic eye. If the left eye is eligible for any other form of visual rehabilitation, I would not advise surgery on the left "good" eye. If your general health would not permit a rather long (for eye surgery) procedure, I would not advise this surgery. However, if your health is good, and the right eye has significant visual loss that cannot be improved by any other means, and your left "good" eye cannot be improved by any other means, transferring the cornea from the right amblyopic eye to the left eye with the scarred cornea is definitely an option to be considered. Performing a corneal transplant on an eye with herpes simplex has a guarded prognosis because of this infectious agent and the risk of rejection. Using your own cornea from the right eye will reduce the risk of rejection to zero. The right eye would receive a donor cornea which would be still be subject to the risk of rejection, however. There are medications that can help prevent recurrence of the herpes simplex virus as well in the good left eye, and it is likely that you will be taking these for the rest of your life, if you aren't already doing so. Please consult your ophthalmologist with these questions as well as these answers may generate more questions. This is a complicated answer to a complicated problem.

Answered by: Ivan Schwab, MD Dr. Ivan Schwab

Categories: Eye Surgery

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Answered: Sep 10, 2012

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