DALK provides another alternative to full-thickness corneal transplant surgery (penetrating keratoplasty), where the entire cornea is removed and replaced with a donor cornea. Whereas only the back of the cornea (the endothelium) is replaced during DSEK surgery, during DALK surgery only the front of the cornea is replaced, thereby leaving the existing endothelium. DSEK and DALK become viable options if only a specific portion of the patient’s cornea is not diseased. In those cases, a partial replacement of the cornea may reduce the risk of graft rejection, enhance corneal clarity and shorten recovery time.
Keratoconus and corneal scarring are two conditions where only the front of the cornea may need to be replaced. Of course, each patient’s disease is unique, so only your surgeon can determine if you’re a good candidate for DALK.
Dr. Michael Feilmeier, a fellowship-trained corneal subspecialist, performs DALK at Midwest Eye Care. If you are good candidate for the procedure, Dr. Feilmeier will provide a complete overview of the surgery, along with risks, benefits and alternative treatments.