Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK) is a type of corneal transplantation for keratoconus, stromal dystrophies and scars. It is used to replace the outermost layers of the cornea while preserving the well functioning inner layers known as Descemet’s membrane and the endothelium. A DALK procedure may therefore be a better option than a penetrating keratoplasty, in which the full thickness of the cornea must be removed. The full thickness traditional method can place the patient at higher risk for developing healing or vision problems.
This procedure is appropriate for those patients with damage restricted to the outer layers of the cornea, such as keratoconus. Several layers of corneal tissue are removed from the patient’s eye and replaced with the corresponding tissue from a donor eye. Since more natural tissue is maintained in a DALK procedure, there is less of a chance of graft rejection than with penetrating keratoplasty.