Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)

Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) is a procedure that removes the damaged Descemet membrane and endothelium from the eye. This unhealthy tissue is then replaced with healthy donor tissue. DMEK is for patients who have corneal diseases such as Fuch's Dystrophy, Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE) and Posterior Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy (PPCD).

One of the most common tissue transplants in the United States is the corneal transplant. Sometimes, disease or injury can cause damage to the endothelium, or the innermost layer of your eye, resulting in swelling and cloudiness in the cornea. The cornea is the outer layer of your eye that helps you focus on light and see, so the result is often blurred vision. If you are experiencing this type of vision issue and find yourself in need of surgery, Southwest Eyecare has the advanced technology and experienced ophthalmologists to provide the best care. 

What Is Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty?


One way to help restore vision is through Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK). DMEK is a partial transplant method that removes the damaged Descemet membrane and endothelium from the eye. This unhealthy tissue is then replaced with healthy donor tissue. 

This is what you can expect from a DMEK procedure. First, your eye will be numbed with eye drops. Your skilled surgeon then creates a microscopic incision to remove the cornea's damaged inner cell layer. The healthy tissue is then implanted. Next, an air bubble is used to unfold the donor tissue so that it will properly position against the cornea. The eye naturally absorbs the air bubble over the next few days, and the new cells will remain in the proper position. 

What Can Be Treated with DMEK?


DMEK is for patients who have corneal diseases such as:

  • Fuch's Dystrophy
  • Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
  • Posterior Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy (PPCD)
  • Congenital hereditary endothelial dystrophy
  • Bullous keratopathy
  • Failed previous corneal transplants


Benefits of DMEK


Because DMEK is only a partial transplant, it has many benefits:

  • The cornea is kept intact, which keeps the eye stronger and less likely to incur further injury. 
  • Rejection rates are lower. 
  • You can expect faster visual recovery. 
  • There are fewer activity restrictions with DMEK.
  • You can expect minimal changes to your glasses prescription.


What's the Recovery Process for DMEK?


Initially, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few hours for observation. You will also need to arrange transportation home. Your surgery team will give you specific post-operative care instructions, and it is essential to follow them for the best recovery results. In general, you should expect to lay flat on your back for about 45 minutes every hour in the first few days to help the graft attach properly. Inflammation will be controlled with eye drops, which will also help prevent infection. A steroid eye drop is used to avoid rejection. 

You can expect to sleep with an eye shield for a few nights and to use protective eyewear whenever you participate in an activity that might rub, bump, or cause injury to the eye. A series of postoperative examinations will be scheduled to monitor the transplant and recovery. Visual recovery is usually expected within a few weeks. 


Why Southwest Eyecare?


At Southwest Eyecare, you will find Albuquerque's leading ophthalmologists. We are proud to offer the most comprehensive care in treating your medical and surgical needs with the best technology and attentive doctors in the area. We have the expertise and experience to provide superior service every time. If you have questions about Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty, do not hesitate to contact us. You can schedule a consultation with one of our compassionate physicians and discuss treatment options and alleviate any concerns you may have. Our knowledgeable staff provides skilled and compassionate care every step of the way.

 Call us at (505) 346-0500 and schedule an appointment to start your vision recovery process.

Our Location

7110 Wyoming Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109