Corneal disease

Corneal dystrophies and keratoconus

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Duke corneal surgeons are experts in corneal transplantation to treat corneal disease including keratoconus and corneal dystrophies, including Fuchs’ dystrophy. We use the most sophisticated imaging technology to diagnose your condition, and offer ongoing medical management of corneal infection, corneal ulcers, dry eye and corneal scarring. If your condition has progressed to the point where you require a corneal transplant, we employ the latest surgical advances to repair your diseased corneas and improve your vision. Our goal is to return you to your normal daily routine as quickly as possible.

Corneal disease specialists

Corneal disease is a serious concern that can severely impact your vision if not treated promptly and effectively. Our corneal surgeons are ophthalmologists who have undergone advanced training in the medical and surgical management of corneal disease. Our surgical expertise, and access to the most technically advanced equipment, ensures you receive and accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan. Our recommendations are based on the severity of your condition, and its potential impact on your vision.

You may be a candidate for corneal transplant if your cornea has been impacted by scarring, trauma, infection or disease, and is no longer capable of allowing normal visual function. The most common corneal diseases requiring transplantation are keratoconus, in which the cornea becomes thin and cone-shaped, and inherited corneal dystrophies such as Fuch’s dystrophy, in which the cornea's thin layer of endothelial cells no longer function properly. This can lead to corneal swelling.  We have years of experience treating these and other corneal conditions, and perform hundreds of corneal transplants each year. Our skill in the latest corneal transplant advances ensures you recover your vision and return to your daily activities quickly.

Choose Duke for your corneal disease care because we offer:

  • Leading eye care experts. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Duke Eye Center among the nation’s best.
  • New advances in corneal transplant. Whenever possible, we use the latest techniques to remove only the diseased portion of the cornea, rather than all the layers of the cornea. These new techniques retain the structural integrity of the eye and minimize your risk of rejection. At the same time, you recover faster with the best possible vision.
  • New approaches to diagnostic imaging. Our researchers are studying new ways to use optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technology that allows us to look closely at the cornea and assess corneal disease.
  • Experience in artificial cornea placement. We are one of the few eye centers in the region with the surgical skill and expertise to treat advanced corneal disease with artificial cornea implants (keratoprothesis). This may be an option if you have had no success with standard corneal transplants.
  • Compassionate, supportive environment. We offer patient support services, including educational materials and programs, a low vision rehabilitation program, and a dedicated social worker to help you and your loved ones manage your condition and maximize your quality of life.



Your corneal surgeon will conduct a thorough examination of your eye and its structure using a variety of imaging devices.