How to Find a Surgeon for your Cornea Transplant

Cornea transplants have come a long way in the past 20 years. It’s important to choose a surgeon that is up to date with his or her training on the latest surgical treatments and post-operative care to minimize complications following a cornea transplant.
Dr. Francis Price (founder of the Cornea Research Foundation of America) and Dr. Matthew Feng of Price Vision Group have trained more than 600 doctors from around the world on leading surgical techniques including the latest Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) procedure.
While the Cornea Research Foundation does not maintain a database of all cornea transplant surgeons and their outcomes, we do work with our research, partner, Price Vision Group, to collect outcomes of surgeries at that center in Indianapolis, IN. Our transplant database now houses nearly 6,000 endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK and DMEK) cornea transplant outcomes. Just a few things our research has found:
  • Cornea transplant rejection occurs in fewer than 1% of the cases we are following
  • Most patients end up with 20/20 or 20/25 vision with glasses
  • Healing can vary from person to person, but generally patients can return to normal activities (working, driving, reading, hobbies, etc.) within two weeks
The Cornea Research Foundation of America has confidence in the excellent outcomes Dr. Price and Dr. Feng achieve and our first recommendation is to always choose one of them for your cornea transplant. However, we understand that sometimes people are not able to travel for surgery. We maintain a list of doctors who have attended the Cornea Transplant Training Courses and can aid in connecting people who are unable to travel to those surgeons. Alternatively there are other cornea specialists in other parts of the country who routinely provide care for complex cornea cases. However, we do not know how many of those surgeries those doctors do, what treatments they offer and what their outcomes are. To help aid people in how to choose a surgeon, we compiled a few questions you should ask when calling to inquire for an evaluation.
  1. TRAINING:   Have you completed a fellowship in Cornea and Anterior Segment Surgery?
The more thoroughly trained the surgeon is in the techniques and science behind eye surgery, the more likely he or she is to achieve an excellent result. No surgical procedure ever has a guaranteed outcome. A surgeon’s training and experience enable him or her to respond safely, quickly and appropriately when unpredictable situations do arise. Both Dr. Price and Dr. Feng are cornea-trained and pioneers in their field.
  1. BREADTH OF SERVICE:  Are you performing the full-range of cornea surgeries so I can be assured that your selection is best for me?
It can be tempting to take a one-size will fit all approach to vision correction and restoration, but the fact of the matter is that different patients may do better with different procedures. It’s important to pick a surgeon that is able to do the full-range of surgeries and understand what is right for you.
  1. VOLUME & OUTCOMES:  How many cornea transplants do you do in a given week? How many have you done in total? What are their outcomes?
It can be said for most things and is true:  generally the more you do, the better you are. If your cornea surgeon is not performing the procedure that he or she is recommending on a weekly basis, you may want to consider visiting a specialist who does many cases a week to result in the best outcome possible. Just because a surgeon has performed thousands of procedures doesn’t always necessarily mean they are an expert in the latest procedures. If your surgeon is following patient outcomes and can share those with you, they likely are making adjustments in their care based on those findings and are at the forefront of their field.
  1. RESEARCH & ADVANCEMENTS:  Do you publish your results in peer-reviewed journals?
Surgeons who are publishing results and conducting studies are staying on the cutting edge of care and are able to offer their patients the latest advancements. Additionally, they are setting a standard of quality that merits acceptance into competitive journals. Combined, Dr. Price and Dr. Feng have co-authored over 200 articles accepted into peer reviewed journals.
  1. PATIENT FEEDBACK: Do you have any patients that would be willing to speak with me about their experience or videos I can watch?
View testimonials, ask questions online in various groups such as the Facebook Fuchs’ Dystrophy Chat Group, Fuchs’ Friends, friends in your community, etc. Seek the feedback of many different people to weigh your decision. One happy patient’s outcome does not guarantee that you are in the best hands. Thoroughly research your options to ensure you have chosen someone at the top of their field.
Aside from deciding when to have the surgery, choosing a surgeon is likely the most difficult part of having a cornea transplant. There are many financial, emotional and logistical considerations.  Thankfully, internet resources such as journal articles and publications, reviews and videos, provide a wealth of information at our fingertips to help you make the most informed decision for your vision.
For more information on traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana to have an evaluation and surgery by Dr. Francis Price or Dr. Matthew Feng, visit this resource page. Patients generally stay 8 days from the initial evaluation to the final post op visit. You then see a local doctor for long term follow up to minimize any additional travel. Many choose to stay at Homewood Suites as they provide a free shuttle and other amenities for patients undergoing surgery.
If you would like to review a video of a DMEK Cornea Transplant, visit our YouTube Channel.