Coastal Vision Medical

Corneal Transplantation

Senior woman in orange scarf

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is the front, dome-shaped, transparent part of the eye. The clarity and shape of the cornea are vital in its main role: focusing light onto the retina. There are a number of conditions that can affect the clarity and shape of cornea, and in turn the quality of vision. Some of these conditions include: Keratoconus, Fuch’s endothelial dystrophy, scarring, and infections.

Corneal Transplantation

There have been many advancements in corneal transplantation. If a corneal transplant is needed in your condition, our surgeons at Coastal Vision will identify the specific layer of cornea affected, and replace only the involved layer, leaving the healthy layers untouched. This will lead to the least invasive procedure possible, faster vision recovery, and improved vision outcomes.


If the innermost layer of cornea (the endothelium) becomes affected, the procedure of choice is a partial-thickness corneal transplant: DMEK (Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty) or DSEK (Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty). These two procedures will treat conditions like: Fuch’s Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy, failed corneal transplants, and corneal swelling from a variety of conditions.

DMEK (Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty)

This is the most advanced type of endothelial corneal transplantation technique to remove the diseased inner layer of cornea, and replace it with exactly was is removed (Descemet’s membrane and endothelium). The donor tissue is thinner compared to DSEK (Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty), which will lead to faster visual recovery, improved vision outcomes, and minimized risk of transplant rejection.

DSEK (Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty)

This procedure is similar to DMEK in that only the diseased innermost layer of the cornea is removed, however, a thicker partial thickness donor cornea is placed on the back surface of the cornea. Although DMEK has replaced DSEK in many corneal conditions, there are still cases where DSEK is the procedure of choice. Our Cornea-trained surgeons will evaluate each specific case and create with a personalized plan, aiming for best quality of vision and long-term survival of each corneal transplantation.

What is the difference between DMEK and DSEK?

In DMEK, the transplanted partial-thickness donor cornea is thinner than that in DSEK. This leads to decreased risk of donor rejection, improved quality of vision, and faster vision recovery.

DALK (Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty)

This type of corneal transplantation is used when the innermost layer of the cornea (the endothelium) is healthy, and only aims to replace the more superficial layers of the cornea. The two most common conditions where DALK is beneficial are advanced keratoconus and corneal scarring. By removing and replacing only the affected layer of the cornea, vision outcomes, risk of complications, and incidence of graft rejection are improved compared to a full-thickness corneal transplant.

PKP (Penetrating Keratoplasty)

This is the oldest type of corneal transplantation, where the all layers of cornea are removed and replaced with a donor cornea. Although this type of corneal transplantation has largely been replaced with more advanced partial-thickness types of transplantation, there are still conditions where all the layers of cornea are affected, and a full-thickness transplantation is warranted.

Our Locations


Coastal Vision Irvine
Near the Irvine Spectrum
15825 Laguna Canyon Rd,
Ste 201
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (888) 501-4496
Fax: (714) 771-7126

Long Beach

Coastal Vision Long Beach
In the Trader Joe’s shopping center
4300 Long Beach Blvd,
Ste 400
Long Beach, CA 90807
Phone: (888) 501-4496
Fax: (714) 771-7126
Now Open!


Coastal Vision Norco
Near Hamner & 4th
1524 4th St.,
Ste 101
Norco, CA 92860
Phone: (888) 501-4496
Fax: (714) 771-7126


Coastal Vision Orange
Near St. Joseph Hospital
293 South Main St.,
Ste 100
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: (888) 501-4496
Fax: (714) 771-7126