Endothelial Transplant (DMEK)

The Problem

Surgery – DMEK Corneal Transplant

  • Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty known as DMEK or corneal transplant
  • Cells on the back of the cornea are replaced with healthy donor corneal cells 
  • The surgery is performed through keyhole incision under local anesthetic
  • A bubble of air holds the cells in place
  • Surgery takes about 60 minutes and only a few small stitches are required
  • You will be discharged a few hours after surgery

What to expect after a Endothelial transplant – DMEK

  • You will be required to lie flat for around 24 hours after surgery
  • You can remove the eye pad the morning after surgery
  • The vision is usually blurry the next day but improves slowly over 5-7 days
  • An additional air bubble may be required after surgery to support the cells
  • You must use drops as prescribed after surgery
  • It is reasonable to expect 2 weeks away from work after transplant surgery
  • Refrain from swimming for a period of 1 month
  • You may be able to obtain glasses as early as 1 month after surgery


  • Endothelial Transplantation is the most successful transplant and restores vision
  • The structure and shape of the cornea is unchanged 
  • The eye will be much stronger than in standard full thickness transplantation
  • Visual recovery is usually much faster than any other transplant surgery
  • Cataract is usually treated before DMEK
  • Pre-existing damage to the back of the eye (retina or nerve), MAY REDUCE the best vision obtainable after DMEK
  • Rejection with DMEK is less than 1%
  • It is expected that DMEK will last longer as long as a standard full transplant but with faster recovery, better quality vision, and less chance of rejection