Medical & Surgical Ophthalmology

Corneal stem cell transplantation

What is corneal stem cell transplantation?

Corneal stem cell transplantation is a treatment for certain pathologies of the cornea. Corneal epithelial stem cells are found in the sclerocorneal limbus, a transition zone that surrounds the cornea and separates it from the conjunctiva.

Congenital or acquired factors can severely injure the limbus and cause limbic insufficiency. This insufficiency causes the corneal tissue to be replaced by conjunctival epithelium, invading the cornea.

This invasion produces a loss of corneal transparency and consequently a vision loss, as well as erosions, ulcers or vessel growth.

In which cases is it done?

In the context of this pathology, when limbic insufficiency is complete, the only effective treatment consists of surgery and transplantation of corneal stem cells again.

There are alternative treatments, such as keratoprostheses or artificial corneas, whose surgical technique is simpler and whose short-term visual results are very good, but in the long term the risk of severe complications is much higher.

Previous exams

Before the intervention, a complete ophthalmological examination is necessary prior to surgery.


Like all surgery, it has risks of complications after it (infections, rejection, granuloma…). In severe cases, the transplant may fail a few months after surgery.

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