Cornea Transplant Cost in India

Last Modified: October 15, 2020  |   Created on: May 1, 2020
Eyes

“The cost of corneal transplant in India starts from $1500 per eye. The cornea transplant hospitals in India promise unparalleled health treatments at low-cost packages.

Cornea-transplant

What is a cornea transplant?

The human eye is a wonderful organ that allows us to see the beautiful world around us. Our eye has a natural lens that allows light to enter the eye and enables us to see. The lens is covered by a layer called cornea which covers the coloured part of your eyeball. 

The cornea is a transparent, dome-shaped layer that protects the eyes from external agents such as dirt, germs and other particles, as well as damaging UV light. The cornea is responsible for focusing the light entering the eye to help form a clear vision. It is made up of three tissue layers with two thin layers of membrane between them.

Certain medical conditions can damage the corneal tissue, making it cloudy or disfigured due to loss of strength. This causes obstruction or interference in the path of light entering through cornea, leading to disruption in the normal vision. The doctor may recommend a corneal transplant to restore the vision when medicines or other methods are not being effective for treatment. The medicine might help eliminate a temporary infection that is damaging the cornea, but in severe conditions the cornea is removed and a transplant is placed.

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Cornea Transplant Cost in India 

The cost of cornea transplant in India ranges between USD 1500 to USD 1800 per eye. This cost is inclusive of eye check up and consultation, and the price for eye drops as well as other medications will be charged separately. 

Indian hospitals offer affordable health packages for eye transplant surgery with full assurance of excellent quality treatment. 

The eye transplant surgery cost in India is relatively lower than several other nations, which makes it an economical option to international patients. A foreign patient may save around 50-70% on the overall expenditure for the treatment if they choose to travel to India for their surgery. 

What are the factors that affect the cost of Cornea Transplantation in India?

The factors that may vary the corneal transplant cost in India are:

  • Location of the hospital 
  • Accreditations and certifications the medical facility has
  • Surgeon’s experience
  • Length of hospital stay
  • Eye drops and medications required

How can Lyfboat assist you getting Cornea Transplant in India?

World's Most Trusted Medical Advisory & Discount Platform

Lyfboat is a free advisory platform; we do not charge any fees from patients. In fact, we negotiate the price that Indian hospitals offer. In some cases we are able to reduce the cost by negotiating upto 20% of what Hospitals generally offer. We advise the best treatment from the top hospital/surgeon at best price.

Who may need a cornea transplant?

Conditions that damage your corneas and impair your ability to see clearly may require a corneal transplant. These conditions include:

  • Fuchs’ dystrophy, a condition in which the inner layer (endothelial) cells of the cornea die, causing the cornea to swell and thicken and vision to become blurred
  • Keratoconus, a condition that causes the cornea to be cone-shaped instead of dome-shaped
  • Infections, which cause permanent damage to the cornea
  • Traumatic injuries that penetrate or scar the cornea
  • Previous eye surgeries that damaged the cornea
  • Bullous keratopathy, a blister-like swelling of the cornea that causes eye discomfort, pain, and blurred vision
  • Keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites

How to prepare before a corneal transplant surgery in India?

Before a corneal transplant, the patient will undergo a series of medical evaluation and eye examinations. The medical team will take measurements of the eye to determine the size of donor corneal tissue needed. Also, if the patient has any underlying eye problem that may cause problem during the surgical process, it will be treated. 

The doctor will ask if the patient has any existing medical conditions, or they are taking any prescription medications or over-the-counter medicines. 

Types of corneal transplant surgery in India

The cornea comprises three layers of tissue with thinner layers between them. The type of cornea transplant surgery is based on a specific layer or layers it focuses on.

Penetrating keratoplasty or full thickness cornea transplantation

Penetrating keratoplasty is the most commonly performed type of cornea transplant. In this procedure, all the layers of the cornea are replaced. The surgeon will remove the entire center part of the patient’s cornea using a small circular blade. It is then replaced with a healthy donor cornea of the exact same shape.

This procedure is usually recommended to patients who have severe cornea injury or significant bulging and scarring. It has a comparatively longer healing time.

Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK)

This is also known as Partial Thickness Corneal Transplant. This is used in cases where the middle and outer layers of cornea are damaged, while the innermost layer remain healthy. During the procedure, the surgeon will inject some air to lift off the thin outer and thick middle layers of cornea and separate them from inner layer. These layers are then removed and replaced with corneal tissue from a donor eye.

It is recommended to people with keratoconus or corneal scarring that hasn’t reached the inner layers of the cornea. With this procedure, healing time is shorter than a full thickness transplant. Also, the risk of infection is less because the inner layer hasn’t been operated. 

Endothelial keratoplasty

This procedure is used for people with a damaged innermost layer of cornea, the endothelium. This endothelial layer is made of thin tissue and is known as Descemet’s membrane. Two types of endothelial keratoplasty surgeries can be performed:

  • Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK): The donor tissue is used to replace about one-third of the cornea.
  • Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK): In this, a much thinner layer of donor tissue is used for transplant. 

Both these type of endothelial keratoplasty procedure involves removal of the damaged cells from Descemet’s membrane. The surgeon makes a small incision through which the damaged inner corneal layer is removed. The new healthy donor tissue is put in place to remove the diseased layer. The doctor may put in few stitches to close the incision. Most of the cornea is left intact. The healing time is less and risk of cornea cells rejection after surgery is also low.

  • It is easier to transplant and position the donor tissue with DSEK/DSAEK surgery as it uses a thicker donor tissue in comparison to DMEK surgery.
  • A DMEK surgery is more complicated and difficult as the donor tissue is thin. However, the recovery with this surgery is faster because of the same reason – the transplant tissue is thinner.
  • The eye surgeon will recommend the type of surgery on the basis of the condition cornea of the patient.

What happens during the cornea transplant procedure?

During the surgery, the patient will be given local anaesthesia and the eye will be washed and cleansed. The eye remains still and the doctor will then make highly precise cuts on the cornea for its removal. For this, a small microsurgical device is placed and perfectly aligned on the cornea to allow cuts of specific depth and help in removal of the corneal tissue.

This can also be achieved with the help of corneal scissors which cut and remove the cornea manually. After the damaged tissue of cornea has been removed, the area is cleaned and the new healthy transplant tissue is placed in its position. 

The transplant is secured in the place with the help of sutures or stitches, which usually dissolve in a few days. The eye is treated with antibiotics to prevent infection and a bandage is put over the eye (for some time). The procedure generally requires several days of healing time.

What to expect after the cornea transplant surgery?

During the first few days post surgery, the eye will remain red, a bit irritated, and sensitive to light. The doctor will prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers to help control the pain. An eye patch will be put over the eye after the surgery for its protection. The eye patch has to be worn while taking a shower or sleeping. 

There are certain activities that should be avoided, including all the activities that might lead to a direct hit to the eye. 

For patients who had endothelial transplants, it is advisable to position the face up while lying on your back for a few days after the surgery.

A follow-up visit with the surgeon will be scheduled, typically, within 24 to 48 hours post surgery. The surgeon will remove the eye patch and check on the healing status of the eye. 

Eye drops and ointments will be prescribed to help with the healing. These eye drops and other medication usually include antibiotics to prevent infection and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, swelling. The steroids also help prevent rejection.

Stitches may need to be removed depending on the type of stitches and surgical technique used. If stitches do need to be removed, they may not be removed for several months.

Your surgeon will recommend that you wear glasses or other protective eyewear for a period of time to help protect your eyes. While recovering, you should not rub or press on your eyes. Rubbing can cause damage and interfere with healing.

Risks and complications of cornea transplant surgery 

The cornea transplant procedure has some possible risks and complications, including:

  • Infection in the cornea layer or in the eye
  • Blood loss
  • Glaucoma: pressure build up inside the eye
  • Leakage of fluid from the cornea
  • Detachment of retina: This means the retina tissue lining the back of the eye is pulled away from the eye 
  • Visual acuity problems, such as sharpness of the vision caused due to an irregular curve in the cornea shape 
  • Detached corneal transplant: can occur in the case of endothelial transplant in which the transplant held in place with an air bubble 

The most concerning complications of cornea transplant is rejection. Organ rejection after the transplant occurs when the body’s immune system recognizes the donated cornea as foreign and attacks the transplant. The doctor will give eye drops that have to be used for at least a year after the surgery to reduce the risk of rejection.

Result/outlook

For most people, cornea transplant is a successful surgery with long-term benefits. The vision is at least partially restored and there is a significant reduction in pain. It can improve the overall quality of life of the patient and help see them better. 

The success of eye transplant in India will depend on factors such as the condition of which the surgery was performed and patient’s overall health.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) about Cornea Transplant in India

Q. How long does the surgery take?

Patient is generally in the operating room for about 1-2 hours, although the actual surgery takes less time.

Q. When will I be able to see the results after my corneal transplant?

Patients who have corneal transplant surgery with laser technology are known to have faster results and improved vision within 2 to 3 weeks. As all sutures are removed, in about 6 to 7 months, most patients experience better vision. The conventional surgery approach may take longer to heal and show results in comparison to laser surgery.

Q. How successful is corneal transplant in India?

Cornea transplant success rate in India is at par with that of the best facilities of the world. Most people with corneal transplants have successful results and the transplant last for several years. The chances of tissue rejection are low, but people who experience tissue rejection may need to have another transplant. At the top eye clinics, the success rate of corneal transplant is more than 95%.

Q. Where does the donor corneal tissue come from?

The cornea for a cornea transplants are typically obtained from a deceased donor. Many people are registered eye donors and their cornea can be retrieved for transplantation after their death. In some case, family or next of kin may consent for organ donation. Generally, patients who need cornea transplants do not have to wait for long, which is the case with organs such as livers and kidneys. This is due to the fact that many people are registered eye donors and doctors can retrieve the tissue soon after their death. 

However, not all donors have viable corneas or donors who with medical conditions, such as infections, certain central nervous system diseases, and prior eye conditions.

Q. Will there be discomfort post surgery?

After the surgery, the eyes will remain red, irritated, and sensitive to light for some time. Patient may experience slight tearing or discharge from the eye. Any discomfort felt by the patient during the first few days can be managed with acetaminophen or pain killers following the surgery.

Q. When will I be able to drive after corneal transplant surgery?

The vision of the eyes should be adequate for driving. The surgeon usually recommends waiting for a few days before driving. You must have someone to drive you back home from the hospital after the surgery and bring you to hospital for follow-up visits.

Q. When will I be able to return to work after the corneal transplant?

This mainly depends on the nature of work activities and the technique used for the surgery. Laser surgery allows a faster recovery and early return to normal activities, including work. Some patients who have desk jobs may return to work within a few days post surgery, while others who are involved in outdoor work or strenuous activities may have to put off work for a few weeks.

Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.

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