SingHealth Transplant Programmes
Tel: +65 6326 5194
Fax: +65 6220 0730
When does a patient require a corneal transplant ?
When the cornea becomes cloudy, light rays are unable to pass through to reach the light-sensitive portion of the eye called the retina. A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the cloudy/scarred cornea with a donor cornea to restore vision.
Most individuals with poor vision due to a diseased or cloudy cornea, whose nerve and retina at the back of the eye is still healthy, may benefit from a corneal transplant to see well.
A cloudy or opaque cornea can occur from scarring of any cause (e.g., injuries or infections) or cloudy swelling of the cornea due to damage or ageing of the innermost layer of cells of the cornea (known as the corneal endothelial layer). This layer is not able to "grow back" or regenerate and can only be replaced by a donor cornea through transplantation.
Less commonly, corneal transplants can be done on an urgent basis to treat severe Corneal Infections, or to repair or "patch up" severe thinning, defects or perforations in the cornea or sclera (the sclera is the white coating of the eye). The latter may occur due to previous injury, inflammation or infections.
The primary objective of the Singapore Eye Bank is to provide safe human corneal tissue of excellent quality to patients requiring corneal transplantation. This is achieved through local corneal donation programmes, and through acquisition of overseas corneal tissue from certified international eye banks. SEB provides families of potential donors with a mechanism to donate their loved one’s eyes and is committed to promote public awareness of corneal donations among all Singaporeans. Sited within SNEC, SEB is staffed and fully equipped for corneal procurement, evaluation, processing, storage and distribution for transplantation. The eye bank adheres to the highest international standards set by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) and undergoes regular quality assurance reviews. The SEB is also the epicenter of the Association of Eye Banks of Asia (AEBA), which is headquartered in SNEC. AEBA is a professional organization of eye banks in Asia dedicated to promoting eye donation and improving standards of eye banking in Asia. The Hospital Eye Donation Program (HEDP), which is governed by the Medical Therapy, Education & Research Act, was launched in 1996 in order to increase the rate of local cornea donation. This involves active counseling of the next-of-kin of the deceased and obtaining consent for cornea donation. The first program was implemented in SGH and subsequent programmes were also adopted in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (2002), Changi General Hospital (2010) and National University Hospital (2013).
A/Prof Jodhbir S Mehta is the Programme Director of the Corneal Transplant Programme.
Please click here to see the list of corneal transplant surgeons in Singapore National Eye Centre.
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