Corneal Transplant Surgery

LASIK & Cataract Surgeons serving Gurnee, River Forest & Chicago

The cornea is the clear dome-shaped “window” on the front of the eye. It focuses light and is responsible for the majority of the refractive or light focusing power of the eye.  If the cornea is swollen, light will be scattered and your vision will be blurry. Some corneal diseases require corneal transplantation to improve one’s vision and quality of life.  Dr. Kirk performs both full and partial thickness corneal transplantation, as well as pterygium growth removal.

If you are in need of a cornea transplant or removal of a pterygium, please call Kirk Eye Center at 708-397-8080 to schedule your consultation.

Cornea Transplant Surgery

Endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK and DMEK) is the preferred surgical technique for treating most cases of corneal swelling as it results in faster visual recovery and better vision.

OCT image of DSAEK vs DMEK tissue, and photo of eye 3 days after DMEK surgery

Common indications for DSAEK/DMEK:

  • Fuchs’ dystrophy:
    • An inherited disorder of the back layer of the cornea affecting the endothelium “pump” cells. The cells age prematurely becoming dysfunctional.
  • Bullous keratopathy:
    • Corneal swelling and blistering of the cornea resulting from prior eye surgery (cataract or glaucoma) or trauma.
  • Failed corneal transplant

Benefits of a partial-thickness transplant (DSAEK/DMEK):

  • Faster visual recovery
  • Better final vision
  • Less risk of tissue rejection
  • Less fragile eye in the event of unintended trauma
  • Less risk of sight threatening complications (hemorrhage, infection, wound rupture)


The surgery is performed at our Ambulatory Surgery Center. Patient’s eyes are numbed, the diseased or swollen back layer of the cornea is replaced with healthy new cells with a partial corneal transplant (DMEK or DSAEK), and an air bubble locks it in place. The patient goes home an hour after the procedure. DMEK, the most advanced form of partial corneal transplantation is performed at Kirk Eye Center.

Pterygium Surgery

What is a pterygium?

An abnormal triangular-shaped tissue growth on the conjunctiva. It most commonly grows at 3 and 9 o’clock. It can grow onto the cornea causing astigmatism, decreased vision, and poor cosmetic appearance. Sun exposure, dust, and humid environments can lead to the growth of a pterygium.Photo of eye with pterygium

While a small pterygium may be monitored with photographs over time, visually unappealing or larger pterygium are usually removed. Pterygium removal is covered by insurance. While a pterygium can grow back, this happens in only 5% of cases.

How can I prevent growth of a pterygium?

Wear sunglasses to limit sun exposure, and limit exposure to dust or irritants.

Indications for surgery:

  • Decreased vision
  • Astigmatism
  • Cosmetically unappealing
  • Irritation, redness, inflammation


The eye is numbed, the sun growth is removed, the defect is filled with a graft from the patient’s own conjunctiva, and secured in place with a small running suture. The suture is removed 2 weeks after the procedure. The procedure is performed in our ambulatory (outpatient) surgery center.

Schedule Your Eye Appointment Today

Call Kirk Eye Center at 708-397-8080 to schedule your eye appointment today. We have offices in Gurnee and River Forest in order to better serve the Chicago community.