How should I sleep following corneal transplant surgery – Keratoplasty? Can back sleeping help?

The recommended length of supine sleep post-surgery is at least two weeks.

The cornea is the clear layer on the front of the eye that helps focus light for clear vision. If it is ever damaged it may need to be replaced. The operation will involve removing all or part of the cornea and replacing it with a healthy layer of tissue.

A corneal transplant, also called keratoplasty (KP), can restore vision, lessen pain and possibly improve the appearance of the cornea cosmetically if it is white and scarred. Scarring can occur for many reasons including corneal ulceration from conditions and infections such as shingles or if the eye incurs injury or deep abrasions from ill-fitting contact lenses for example or vision occluded (neovascularisation) by the growth of new red blood vessels which proliferate at an area of damage.

It’s important to take good care of the eye after a cornea transplant to help ensure a good recovery and reduce the risk of complications. Back sleeping for a period of time will be one of the post-operative criteria for both healing/prevention of infection and restful restorative sleep.
Most people have to stay in hospital for a night after a full-thickness cornea transplant (penetrating keratoplasty).

In general after a transplant, patients may be told to lie on their back at times throughout the first few days. Supine sleeping on the back is almost definitely going to be advised. An overnight eye shield will need to be worn.

If an endothelial keratoplasty is carried out – a type of partial-thickness transplant that uses an air bubble to hold the donated cornea in place – the patient will be asked to lie on their back as much as possible in the first few days after surgery. This can help hold the transplant in the correct place. The air bubble will be absorbed after a few days.

There should not be serious pain after the operation, but there might be some swelling and discomfort and you will definitely be more comfortable and reduce the risk of any infection by sleeping supine with Waking Beauty®.

As a patch is usually given to continue to wear at night, back sleeping is going to be the most comfortable position to adopt.

The elements we recommend form the 3 layered sleep system of ELEVATE / STABILISE and HARMONISE. HAMONISE and STABILISE offer the emotional and physical support to sleep and maintain a supine posture throughout the night.It would also be advisable to use ALIGN under the knees and possibly a second STABILISE as additional support for the head to elevate and raise it higher than the body.

Going forward REPOSE would be an excellent meditative eye cushion for soothing the eyes and enhancing restful sleep once the eyes are healed. This element does not squash or deter lash growth as other elasticated eye masks can do and is a gentle comforting sleep aid.

We recommend using REPOSE as it blocks the light while gently resting on your face without the traditional restrictive pressure of an eye mask. Only use this once you are fully healed to avoid infection or irritation/pressure on the eye.

Submissions from Carron Ryan BSc. DBO

Waking Beauty® Elements recommended for eye surgery/treatment/ Keratoplasty

Element NameElement Function
HARMONISESuper-soft HARMONISE gives emotional and physical support - Harmonise enables supine sleep while offering the comforting impression of side sleep. It supports the head and gives lateral support to the neck.
STABILISE X2STABILISE allows individual adjustment in a revolutionary way - Stabilise has a central zip on the reverse, allowing for ventilation and filling variation. Patients have all levels of firmness available in one pillow.
ELEVATEELEVATE raises the head to a comfortable position - Elevate is a small pillow that works synergistically with Stabilise to elevate the head, enabling the patient to retain a certain sleep height.
ALIGNALIGN targets support under the knees - Inspired by Alexander's position of Constructive Rest, Align give the targeted support by uniquely increasing the comfort of sleeping in a new position by raising the legs and spine to an optimum level and angle. Like Stabilise, the central reverse zip can adjust filling and firmness

Would you like extra darkness while asleep?

Ask for REPOSE

Repose eye pillow


Would you like extra elevation?

Use extra wool filler

Align pillow showing the woollen filling and label close up