Cornea Transplant near Sioux City, IA

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About Cornea Transplants

At Vance Thompson Vision in South Sioux City, NE, our team performs both full- and partial-thickness corneal transplants to address damaged or diseased corneas. During your surgery, the central diseased portion of tissue will be removed and replaced with a healthy cornea from a donor. Our highly experienced team, led by board-certified ophthalmologist surgeon Dr. Daniel Terveen, utilizes advanced technology to perform full- and partial-thickness cornea transplants with high rates of success. Our surgical techniques include:


Descemet's stripping endothelial keratoplasty surgery (DSEK) removes the diseased endothelial layer and replaces it with high-quality donor tissue. DSEK is a partial-thickness surgical technique so a very small sample of donor tissue is used compared to a full corneal transplant.


Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty, often shortened to DMEK, is a partial-thickness transplant method that works similarly to DSEK. The main difference is that DMEK involves using an even thinner layer of donor tissue, which allows for improved vision along with very low rates of donor tissue rejection.

Full-Thickness Corneal Transplant

For patients who require a replacement of the entire cornea, we will perform a full-thickness transplant, also called a penetrating keratoplasty (PK). This procedure involves removing a full circle of diseased corneal tissue in exchange for a healthy donor sample. To allow for a smooth healing process, the new tissue will be stitched into place.

Cornea FAQs

Best Candidates

Our team will perform a full eye exam in order to determine whether you are a good candidate for a cornea transplant to improve your eyesight. Typically, you may have experienced the following:

  • Blurred, cloudy vision
  • Scarring of the cornea
  • Fluid buildup within the cornea
  • Conditions, like keratoconus or Fuchs' dystrophy

Your doctor will create a customized treatment plan based on your specific condition to get you back to your most optimal vision and eye health.

Treatment Options

Your surgery will be performed as an outpatient procedure under anesthesia at Vance Thompson Vision. During your procedure, we will use an instrument to hold your eye open in order to remove the central part of your cornea (the button). Your surgeon will delicately replace it with a healthy donor cornea. After the new tissue is in place, we will suture it into place to help it heal properly, and a bandage contact lens will be used to protect your eye.


A partial-thickness DSEK transplant takes around 15 – 20 minutes and is performed in an outpatient setting. After your eyes are numbed with anesthetic eye drops, a tiny incision will be made to excise the damaged endothelial tissue. Your surgeon will then precisely position the new healthy tissue into the inner layer of the cornea. Once this tissue has bonded to your natural eye, you should have renewed vision and eye function. The incision should close on its own, or else it will be sealed with 1 – 2 sutures.


DMEK is a partial-thickness transplant that takes about 30 minutes as an outpatient procedure at Vance Thompson Vision. First, your surgeon will numb your eye using specialized drops. After that, an incision will be made in the cornea in order to remove the diseased layer of tissue. Next, the healthy donor sample will be placed into your eye before it is positioned into place using an air (or gas) bubble. Since this procedure involves only a tiny incision, it should heal on its own. If not, we will suture it into place with 1 – 2 stitches.

Penetrating Keratoplasty (PK)

A penetrating keratoplasty takes about an hour in an outpatient surgery setting. Your eyes will be numbed with specialized eye drops before a very small incision is made to remove the damaged corneal tissue. Next, your ophthalmologist surgeon will replace it with the donor tissue. Recovery following PK can take up to one year, but most patients have improved vision sooner than that. Your sutures will need to be removed between 6 – 12 months after your surgery, depending on the current level of remaining astigmatism.

What to Expect

After your procedure, a member of our staff will provide instructions for at-home care. Although your recovery may seem to progress slowly in the beginning, many patients find that it is worth the wait. For cornea transplants involving both eyes, you may have to wait a year or more before scheduling your next surgery. To ensure proper healing, it is vital to adhere to any provided aftercare guidelines, as well as attend follow-up visits with your provider.


You can expect to start gaining improved vision within 2 – 3 months of DSEK surgery. After about six months, most patients achieve 20/40 vision. While rejection is a possibility, it is unlikely, as DSEK has a very high success rate. In cases of donor tissue rejection, a second surgery is typically performed. It's important to attend follow-up appointments at our office so we can monitor your eyes for any potential complications.


Most men and women who have a DMEK transplant gain 20/25 vision within the first six months post-op. The majority of individuals see improved vision after 1 – 2 months with results continuing to develop in the months following. The chance for rejection is very low (less than 1%). However, if it does occur, we can perform a second surgery to remove and replace the tissue once again.

Discover Your Options

The team at Vance Thompson Vision is committed to utilizing cutting-edge technology and a high level of surgical expertise to help Siouxland-area individuals get back to better vision. Our ophthalmologists and optometrists treat many different eye disorders, including corneal disease. If you have noticed problems with your eyesight, we invite you to reach out to us in South Sioux City, NE to schedule a consultation.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.