In a first for the Will-County area, a surgeon at Silver Cross Hospital is removing patients’ diseased layer of the cornea and replacing it with a similar layer of healthy human donor tissue in a surgery called DSEK (Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty).
The DSEK procedure provides significant benefits over the traditional cornea transplant. “DSEK is a safer, more effective and overall superior treatment for corneal endothelial disease than the traditional method,” says ophthalmologist and corneal surgeon Timothy Kisla, D.O., who performs the surgery at Silver Cross Hospital. “The advantages include a faster recovery time with a more rapid visual rehabilitation since a smaller incision with fewer stitches is placed in the cornea. Further benefits include improved optical stability, less risk for intraoperative complication such as expulsive choroidal hemorrhage, and a reduced risk to subsequent trauma, suture-related complications, and tissue graft rejection.”
During a DSEK procedure, the surgeon uses special instruments to enter the eye through a less than 1/4 inch incision in the front clear part of the eye (cornea). The back portion of the cornea is then painlessly stripped away and replaced by a similar piece of healthy graft tissue from a human donor. Although only a small piece of cornea is actually replaced, the graft will help keep the entire cornea clear.
Approximately 50,000 cornea transplants are performed each year in the U.S. and the majority of these cases use the DSEK technique for patients with damage to the endothelial area of the cornea. “Patients who are good candidates for the DSEK procedure are those that have impaired vision or pain due to cornea swelling secondary to corneal endothelial disease, such as Fuchs’ corneal endothelial dystrophy or trauma/damage to the endothelium, for example from complicated cataract surgery,” says Dr. Kisla.
Many patients can regain useful vision within one to two months and driving vision within two to three months following the DSEK procedure, as opposed to 12 to 18 months, as seen with the traditional transplant method.
Frankfort Woman Maintains Independence
For Frankfort resident Lidio Filippo, who suffered from poor vision due to cornea swelling, life after his DSEK surgery has been nothing but wonderful. “My vision has improved so much that I can now drive at night and even read the street signs,” said the 83-year old. “If I didn’t get this surgery, I’m sure I would have failed my driver’s license exam because my vision was so poor. Thanks to Dr. Kisla and the wonderful nurses at Silver Cross Hospital, I have improved my quality of life and maintained my independence.”
Lidio’s wife is so grateful that her husband was able to have the new DSEK surgery at Silver Cross Hospital. “Lidio and I were so pleased with the care he received from Dr. Kisla and the nurses at Silver Cross. They made us both feel so at ease during the entire process,” said Shirley Filippo. “After the surgery Lidio was able to get his eye glass prescription reduced. He can also read the newspaper and navigate around the house with ease even sometimes without his glasses.”
Like conventional transplantation, DSEK surgery is covered by most major insurance carriers, including Medicare.
Join Dr. Timothy Kisla, ophthalmologist, for a program titled “Future of Cornea Transplants” on June 20 at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1200 Maple Rd., Joliet. Participants will learn a new option for patients needing corneal transplantation that has a faster recovery time, less astigmatism and can be combined with cataract surgery. For more information or to register, call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325)