Cornea Transplant Minneapolis

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If you have corneal disease or trauma, the team at Chu Vision Institute in Minneapolis and Bloomington, MN can offer help to improve your eye health with a corneal transplant. This ocular surgery involves precisely excising the damaged corneal tissue, followed by replacing it with a healthy donor sample. Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu can offer a full- or partial-thickness corneal transplant, depending on the stage of your condition. To conduct the most effective transplant procedures that produce ideal outcomes, Dr. Chu and his staff use some of the most advanced surgical technologies and cutting-edge techniques. We offer the following cornea transplant methods:

  • Partial-thickness corneal transplant (DSEK):
    Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty, or DSEK, is a type of partial-thickness corneal transplant in which damaged endothelial cells are removed and replaced with a healthy donor sample. DSEK uses a much thinner layer of tissue and generally has a shorter recovery time than full-thickness transplant surgery.
  • Full-thickness corneal transplant (PK):
    For more severely damaged corneas, a full-thickness transplant (penetrating keratoplasty, or PK) can be performed to eliminate the damaged tissue and exchange it with high-quality donor tissue. Dr. Chu will remove a circular portion from the entire thickness of the diseased cornea before positioning a healthy donor cornea in its place.


You may be considered for a cornea transplant if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Corneal scarring
  • A buildup of fluid within the cornea

For patients who have Fuchs’ dystrophy or keratoconus, a partial- or full-thickness corneal transplant may be the best course of treatment. Dr. Chu will perform a full eye exam and review your symptoms and health history to determine whether you are a good candidate. If so, a customized treatment plan will be created to address your specific needs.


Both full- and partial-thickness cornea transplants are done as outpatient procedures that last about 45 minutes to an hour. First, we will give you a mild form of anesthesia and numbing eye drops. Based on which type of corneal transplant you are having, Dr. Chu will make a tiny incision to remove either the full thickness of the cornea or just the inner (endothelial) portion, and it will be replaced with a healthy sample. For patients having a penetrating keratoplasty (full-thickness transplant), the donor tissue will be sutured into your eye. For partial-thickness transplants, stitches are typically not necessary since the incision tends to heal on its own. However, after the donor sample has been positioned into place, a gas bubble will likely be used to secure it into place.


After your cornea transplant, our staff will provide you with thorough follow-up instructions so you can recover and heal properly. The recovery process can seem long, but the good news is that cornea transplants are known for their exceedingly high success rates. Some patients experience irritation, discomfort, and watery eyes over the following few days or weeks. You can expect to begin seeing improved vision within 1 – 3 months, and your vision will continue to repair itself over the next 6 – 24 months. Since cornea transplant is not a refractive vision correction procedure, eyeglasses or contacts may still be needed to attain your clearest vision. It is important that you attend needed follow-up visits at Chu Vision Institute so Dr. Chu can monitor your healing.


Cornea transplant surgery is a specialized procedure that can be customized to fit your specific eye health needs. At Chu Vision Institute, our team utilizes leading-edge technology to carry out precise methods for treating diseased or injured corneas, including DSEK and PK. If you have noticed blurry or worsening vision, we encourage you to contact us in Bloomington, MN to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chu and find out your options to obtain improved eyesight.

Dr. Ralph Chu LASIK surgeon Minneapolis Ophthalmologists

Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu is a fellowship-trained corneal specialist and a nationally recognized leader in refractive and cataract procedures. His specialty areas include cataract, LASIK, cornea, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries for patients in the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Twin Cities areas.

Posted on October 27, 2022

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