Cornea Specialists

Why choose a cornea specialist?

Just as you would choose to consult a cardiologist for heart disease or an oncologist for cancer, there are vitally important eye problems that require the experience and skill of a Fellowship-trained, Board Certified Ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists complete four years of specialized training in an accredited residency program (after medical school) before they are eligible to undergo a rigorous examination to become Certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Our corneal specialists have completed yet an additional year of surgical training specializing in diseases of the cornea and anterior segment of the eye. This adds up to five years of specialty training in eye surgery after the completion of medical school. Fellowship training in Corneal and Refractive surgery allows our specialists to perform corneal transplants, refractive surgery, complex cataract surgery, and solve problems that are often far more complex than common eye conditions.  Our corneal specialists attended some of the finest fellowships in the world. Dr Kao attended Washington University/Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and Dr McKee graduated from The Emory Eye Center in Atlanta. Both of these programs are highly respected and competitive Corneal Fellowship training programs.

East Valley Ophthalmology is the premier center in Arizona for corneal transplants and refractive surgery. As cornea specialists and leading refractive surgeons, our physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating eye conditions and diseases specifically relating to the cornea. There is no one more qualified to make every consideration and take every precaution necessary in helping you obtain your best possible vision than the cornea specialists of EVO:

  • Board Certified corneal specialists by the American Board of Ophthalmology.
  • Recognized as premier ophthalmologists throughout the country and worldwide.
  • Internationally recognized as leading refractive surgeons and cornea specialists.
  • Extensive experience in eye surgery and vision correction procedures relating to corneal and external eye diseases.
  • Doctors other doctors go to for their vision care.

Our physicians are widely sought-after by other doctors and ophthalmologists to perform their vision correction. The confidence they have in our practice is the ultimate in recognition.

The corneal training of our physicians, their extensive knowledge of the cornea’s functionality, and overall experience, is far above that of most ophthalmologists. And when considering any form of corneal surgery, selecting EVO specialists provides you with the highest levels of knowledge, experience, and surgical capabilities.

Eye doctor or cornea specialist?

When people think of an eye doctor, they often think of seeing an optometrist for eye exams and obtaining new eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions. Some may wonder if a cornea specialist is better than a regular eye doctor.

A cornea specialist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in issues related to the cornea, which could include anything from keratoconus or Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy, to other issues like corneal scarring. Cornea specialists are able to properly diagnose symptoms that might be signaling a corneal problem.

Considering that the cornea is perhaps the most vulnerable part of the eye, patients are urged to obtain the best corneal care possible from an experienced specialist. Talking to a cornea specialist may help discover issues with your eyes that would otherwise go unnoticed. Some symptoms, issues, and diseases necessitate seeking expert care, especially if you’re having specific vision problems or considering eye surgery. Give your eyes the right kind of importance, and have them checked by a specialist.

Common Corneal Conditions

Common Corneal Conditions

Click on the links below to read about some of the conditions and procedures that require the experience of a cornea specialist:

Bullous keratopathy

Bullous keratopathy is a condition in which small vesicles called bullae are formed in the cornea due to endothelial dysfunction. Bullous keratopathy is most common among older people. It can occur by itself, it may run in families, and, occasionally, it occurs after eye surgery, such as cataract removal. Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy is a more advanced case of bullous keratopathy. Read more about bullous keratopathy.

Corneal transplant

A cornea transplant (keratoplasty), also known as corneal grafting, is a surgical procedure to replace part of your cornea with corneal tissue from a donor. When the entire cornea is replaced it is known as penetrating keratoplasty (PK) and when only part of the cornea is replaced it is known as automated lamellar keratoplasty (ALK). DSEK and DMEK are are primary endothelial keratoplasty procedures. Read more about corneal transplant surgery.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to be healthy or comfortable. Dry eye syndrome is a chronic and typically progressive condition, which can be managed successfully in most cases. Read more about dry eye syndrome.


Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) are the two corneal transplant surgeries used to help patients who have poor vision due to corneal swelling. Read more about DSEK and DMEK.

Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy, also referred to as Fuchs’ corneal endothelial dystrophy (FCED) and Fuchs’ endothelial dystrophy (FED), is a slowly progressing, non-inflammatory, sporadic or autosomal dominant dystrophy involving the endothelial layer of the cornea. It usually affects both eyes and causes a gradual decline in vision due to corneal edema (swelling) and clouding.  Read more about Fuchs’ dystrophy.


Keratoconus  is a progressive,non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea thins and bulges causing a cone-like shape to develop.  Changing the shape of the cornea brings light rays out of focus, and may result in blurry vision, double vision, nearsightedness, astigmatism, and light sensitivity.  Read more about keratoconus.

Pinguecula & pterygium

Pinguecula and pterygium are pinkish, triangular tissue growths on the cornea of the eye. A pinguecula is a deposit of protein, fat, or calcium. Pterygium is a growth of fleshy tissue that may start as a pinguecula. They typically start on the cornea nearest the nose. They can remain small or grow large enough to cover part of the cornea. Read more about pinguecula and pterygium.

Corneal Specialists

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