When an eye transplant operation is performed, what exactly is it that is fixed?
Cornea transplants are the most common organ transplants in the U.S., they involve the implantation of a healthy cornea into someone with a diseased or traumatized cornea. The cornea is the anterior transparent part of the sclera (white of the eye). When you say "eye transplant" , your probably referring to a cornea transplant. Cornea transplants have a very high success rate especially if histocompatibility studies between donor and recipient are performed preoperatively.
Even though rare, some diseases can be passed from donor to recipient during corneal transplant. Among these are hepatitis B virus (HBV). Recovery time after transplant largely depends on the supportive network of the transplantee. Most people need 24 hour care for a few days postoperatively. It takes several weeks for the person to become accustomed to the new vision they will have after the transplant.
During an eye transplant, the only part of the eye that is transplanted is the cornea. Unlike a kidney or a liver transplant where the complete organ is taken from the donor and implanted in the recipient's body, it is not possible to transplant the complete eye as neither can the optic nerves of the recipient be connected to a new eye nor are they recreated with time.
The cornea transplant involves removing the cornea from the donor, usually withing a few hours of death. The damaged cornea of the recipient is removed and replaced with the cornea of the donor using fine stitches or with the help of a laser. A cornea transplant does not have too many complications accompanying it as blood does not flow through the cornea.