the eye institute of west florida

Cornea | Diseases and Procedures

Diseases of the Cornea

Elderly man having an eye exam

The Eye Institute of West Florida offers world-class care for patients experiencing diseases that affect the cornea. We have a team of board-certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologists that specialize in cornea surgery who offer the most advanced procedures and medicines for the treatment of ocular surface diseases.

Diseases that Affect the Cornea

The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye that bends and helps focus light onto the back of the eye (retina). In order for vision to be clear, the cornea must be clear. Corneal diseases can cause the cornea to become opaque or cloudy, preventing light from passing through clearly.

The most common corneal diseases are Fuchs’ Dystrophy, Allergies, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), Corneal Infections, Dry Eye, Corneal Dystrophies, Herpes Zoster (Shingles), Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome, Keratoconus, Lattice Dystrophy, Map-Dot-Fingerprint Dystrophy, Ocular Herpes, and Pterygium.

Some of these conditions cause severe visual impairment, while a few do not cause vision problems and are only discovered during a routine eye exam. Our team is able to diagnose and treat the most common to complex conditions.

If you are having vision concerns, make an appointment today.

Meet Our Cornea Specialists

Trust Your Eyes to ExperienceYoung woman smiling after Cornea Surgery

Trained in some of the most esteemed medical universities in the United States, our physicians are able to treat corneal disease using the latest treatment techniques available, such as DSAEK, DMEK, and PSEK. Our physicians have developed new patented technology designed for better outcomes.

We help patients see and feel their best at our state-of-the-art facilities.

When you need advanced care for conditions that affect the cornea, Dr. Neel Desai is available to care for you.

Meet our Doctors

“From God’s hands to your fingers, thank you for your skills in helping me see better. Making a difference in a person’s life can be your legacy.”

Bruce –patient of Dr. Neel Desai

Corneal TransplantsElderly woman smiling after a Cornea Transplant

At The Eye Institute of West Florida, our specialists are able to perform the most advanced surgical procedures to restore visual clarity and quality of life for patients with advanced corneal diseases and conditions.

Dr. Neel Desai has performed thousands of advanced vision recovery procedures.

There are many conditions in which the endothelial cells, the innermost layer of the cornea, can become damaged or stop working. This may include prior eye surgery, as well as genetic conditions such as Fuchs’ Dystrophy. When the cornea becomes swollen, cloudy, or develops droplet like changes, you may need a cornea transplant.

Our surgeons are trained in the following Endothelial Procedures: DMEK, DSAEK, and PDEK. Your specialists will choose the best procedure based on your condition and medical history.

About DMEK

Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) is a form of corneal transplant in which human donor corneal tissue is used to restore the clarity of the patient’s existing cornea. The DMEK technique is a micro incisional surgery, replacing only the cells you need on a membrane with no additional donor tissue. The DMEK graft is only about 15 microns thick (slightly thicker than a red blood cell) and as a result, the clarity of the cornea after surgery can be spectacular.


Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) is another form of corneal transplant in which human donor corneal tissue is used to restore the clarity of the patient’s existing cornea. At The Eye Institute of West Florida, we can replace the damaged inner layer of endothelium with a graft of new endothelial cells that has a thin supporting layer of donor tissue on the back. This is called ultra-thin DSAEK or UT-DSAEK. The ultra-thin form of this procedure involves using a thinner graft which can provide faster vision recovery and less risk of rejection than traditional DSAEK.

About PDEK

Pre-Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty (PDEK) is another type of corneal transplant in which human donor corneal tissue is used. The PDEK technique replaces only the cells you need on a membrane with a few microns of supportive donor tissue. The PDEK graft is only about 20 microns thick (just over 2 x the thickness of a red blood cell), and as a result the clarity of the cornea after surgery is excellent.

Expertise You Can Trust

Each type of corneal transplant surgery restores the cornea. Working with our team of corneal specialists, we will determine the type of procedure that is right for you.


Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease where the typically round cornea (the front clear window of the eye) thins and begins to bulge and steepen, creating more of an irregular cone shape. As the shape of the cornea becomes more irregular due to the keratoconus, your vision will continue to worsen, resulting in frequent changes in your prescription.

Mild to moderate keratoconus can be treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses. If a patient’s mild to moderate keratoconus progressively worsens, a corneal transplant may be the only possible treatment option.

Corneal collagen cross-linking, a much less invasive procedure that corrects keratoconus and can even eliminate the need for a corneal transplant later in life, was a recently approved treatment in 2016.

Dr. Neel R. Desai was a Principal Investigator for research on the KXL System that enables corneal collagen cross-linking developed by Avedro, a pharmaceutical and medical device. Watch a news story explaining this treatment.

Learn more about keratoconus and corneal collagen cross-linking.

Dr. Neel Desai is an expert in the diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases of the cornea. Our team at The Eye Institute will determine the most effective treatment plan that is right for your eye condition and medical history. 

Meet Your Cornea Specialists

Neel-R.-Desai,-MDNeel R. Desai, M.D. is a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist strictly specializing in LASIK, cataract and corneal diseases of the eye. Dr. Desai is a top graduate of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed his fellowship in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He is recognized throughout the country and internationally as one of only 100 surgeons able to perform advanced corneal transplants and other complex cataract, corneal and refractive procedures. He holds pending patents to new surgical products and advanced cornea surgical procedures of his own design. Additionally, Dr. Desai has authored many book chapters in his field of study and continues to write articles in peer review journals.

Joshua Roe, MD Joshua Roe, M.D. is a fellowship-trained, board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in cornea and refractive surgery. He continues to be active in the field academically publishing both research and review articles.

He spent the first part of his career in the Air Force where he was the Director of the Cornea & Refractive Surgery services at Madigan Army Medical Center. There, he received multiple teaching awards and performed hundreds of corneal transplants and thousands of refractive surgery procedures.

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