Corneal Surgical Procedures

Physicians in the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Service at Mass. Eye and Ear provide comprehensive care for patients with disorders that affect the cornea and front third of the eye, called the anterior segment. With subspecialty training in cornea and refractive surgery, they have unparalleled expertise in the most advanced medical and surgical techniques available today. Below is an overview of the procedures performed at Mass. Eye and Ear.

Artificial Cornea—Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro)

The Boston KPro is an alternative treatment option for patients with severe corneal disease. It is most often performed after a standard corneal transplant has failed or when such a transplant would be unlikely to succeed. Developed by Harvard Professor of Ophthalmology Emeritus Claes H. Dohlman, MD, PhD, the Boston KPro received FDA approval in 1992 and, today, is the most commonly used artificial cornea in the world, with more than 11,000 implantations to date. Learn more…

Cornea Transplantation

A corneal transplantation involves replacing a diseased, scarred, or cloudy cornea with a healthy one from a donor. Mass. Eye and Ear surgeons specialize in several different techniques.

Penetrating Keratoplasty: This transplant procedure replaces the entire cornea with donor tissue. Sometimes called a full-thickness transplant, this procedure may be performed in patients with advanced keratoconus, iridocorneal endothelial syndrome, or pseudophakic bullous keratopathy.

Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK): Unlike PK, this partial-thickness transplant procedure preserves the patient’s Descemet’s membrane and endothelium. This procedure may be useful for conditions that affect the thickest layer of the cornea, called the corneal stroma, as long as the endothelium is healthy.

Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK): DMEK is a new corneal transplantation procedure that involves replacing the inner one percent of the cornea, the Descemet’s membrane, and the associated endothelial cells. It is used to reduce swelling and restore vision in patients with endothelial disorders, such as Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy, failed previous corneal transplants, and bullous keratopathy.

Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK): During DSEK surgery, the innermost layer of the cornea, known as the endothelium, is replaced. It is often performed in patients who have advanced pseudophakic bullous keratopathy or Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy.

Corneal Cross-Linking

Massachusetts Eye and Ear is one of the few hospitals in New England that performs a newly FDA-approved procedure called corneal cross-linking. This minimally invasive, in-office procedure is the only treatment that can slow or stop the progression of keratoconus—an eye condition that causes the cornea to become thin, weak, and irregularly shaped. It can also be used to treat rare complications from LASIK surgery. Learn more...


A type of corneal implant, called Intacs, was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of nearsightedness. In 2004, it was later approved for the treatment of mild-to-moderate keratoconus. During the procedure, a small, curved device is surgically inserted into the cornea to flatten the curvature of the eye and improve vision. Learn more…

Refractive Surgery/Laser Vision Correction

Refractive surgery refers to several different surgical procedures that are designed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Mass. Eye and Ear provides the most advanced forms of refractive surgery, ranging from LASIK and SMILE to implantable lenses. Learn more…

Ocular Surface Reconstruction

Our specialists use preserved amniotic membrane (the innermost layer of the placenta)—with or without stem cells—to reconstruct the surface of the damaged eyes and eyelids. Learn more…

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

Phototherapeutic keratectomy is a type of laser eye surgery that is used to treat corneal dystrophies, corneal scars, and some corneal infections. The surgeon uses a laser to remove microscopically thin layers of diseased cornea tissue, allowing new tissue to grow on the smooth surface.

Surgical Removal of Tumors and Pterygia

Physicians at Mass. Eye and Ear use the latest techniques and technology to surgically remove tumors or pterygia (pinkish, triangular-shaped tissue growth) on the cornea.