Abnormal accumulation of liquid in the eye leading to swelling of the cornea, called corneal edema was an implication of a condition, Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy.
"I was blind as a bat," said 73-year-old John Basra, resident of Parma, Ohio who suffered from the genetic predisposed disease.
"It was like looking through dirty water. Everything was blurry. I needed a bright LED light to read and a magnifying glass. My eyes would develop blisters and the blisters would break" said Mr. Barsa.
Cataract surgery a couple of years ago could not help improve his vision, but a different type of eye surgery at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center last summer made a world of difference for him.
Mr.Basra said, "Although I'm still wearing glasses, it is a slight prescription. It's like the difference between night and day for me. I'm seeing better than I have in years and I don't have the pain anymore."
Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) was done for his right eye. In DMEK, a very thin, delicate sheet of corneal cells is transplanted. The sheet of cells is only about 1/100 of the thickness of a dime.
His left eye had been previously treated with an older procedure called DSAEK, Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty - which involves more layers of corneal tissues. The vision in his left eye improved dramatically as well.
"DMEK is a great procedure because it has a lot of really good advantages," said Pankaj Gupta, Director of Anterior Segment/Cornea and External Disease/Refractive Surgery, UH Eye Institute.
The incision is smaller, reduction in the graft rejection rate, better vision are the three main positives of the transplant.
Since Mr. Barsa' procedure in 2014, a dozen other patients have had the procedure with good results, and twice as many are expected in 2015.