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What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of the eye. It is the main focusing element of the eye. Vision will be dramatically reduced if the cornea becomes cloudy from disease, injury or infection.

What is corneal blindness?

Corneal blindness is a disorder that results from the cornea becoming clouded, making a person blind. This condition can result from a variety of diseases, injury or infection.

What is a corneal transplant?

This is a surgical procedure which replaces a disc-shaped segment of an impaired cornea with a similarly shaped piece of a healthy donor cornea.

Is the whole eye transplanted?

No. Only the cornea can be transplanted. The entire eye may be used for research and education.

How prevalent is corneal transplantation?

Corneal transplant is one of the most frequently performed human transplant procedures. Since 1961, more than 549,889 corneal transplants have been performed, restoring sight to men, women, and children ranging in age from nine days to 103 years.

How successful is corneal transplantation?

Over 90% of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient's vision.

Why should eyes be donated?

There is no substitute for human tissue. The transplantation process depends upon the priceless gift of corneal donation from one human to the next. Donated human eyes and corneal tissue are used for research, education, and transplantation.

Who can be a donor?

Anyone can. Cataracts, poor eyesight, or age do not prevent you from being a donor. It is important for individuals wanting to be donors to inform family members of their wishes.

Will the quality of medical treatment be affected if one is a known donor?

No. Strict laws are in existence which protect the potential donor. Legal guidelines must be followed before death can be certified. The physician certifying a patient's death is not involved with the eye procurement or with the transplant.

Will the recipient be told who donated the corneas?

The gift of sight is made anonymously. Specific information about the donor family is not available to the recipient. They eye bank will convey a recipient's thanks to the donor family.

If a person has already signed a donor card or a driver's license, how can they be sure that their wishes regarding donation will be respected?

Tell your family you want to be an eye donor. In Mississippi, you can also insure your wishes will carried out by signing up to be a donor and becoming a part of the Mississippi Donor Registry. To learn more click on the Donate Life logo located on the home page of this web site.  

How great is the need for corneas?

Although more than 40,000 corneal transplants were performed last year, the need for corneal tissue is never satisfied. While promising advances are being made in artificial corneas, they tend to be reserved for patients with diseases that preclude donor cornea transplantation. Success rates are currently much higher with donor corneas.

Are there religious objections to eye, organ, or tissue donations?

No. Donation is an opportunity to help save a life or restore someone's sight. Eye, organ, and tissue donation are consistent with the beliefs and attitudes of major religions.

Is there a fee charged for this donation?

No. It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs, and tissues. Any costs associated with eye procurement are absorbed by the eye bank placing the tissue.

Is there any delay in funeral arrangements?

No. Eye tissue procurement is performed within hours of death. Families may proceed with funeral arrangements without delay or interruption.

Will eye donation affect the appearance of the donor?

No. Great care is taken to preserve the donor's appearance. Funeral arrangements, including a viewing if desired, may proceed as scheduled.

What happens if corneas are not suitable for transplant?

Donors and eyes are carefully evaluated. Corneas determined to unsuitable for transplant may be used for medical research and teaching.

How do research and education benefit from eye donation?

Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complications of diabetes and other sight disorders helps to advance the discovery of the cause and effects of these conditions. This then leads to new treatments and cures.

What is an eye bank?

An eye bank obtains, medically evaluates and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation, research, and education. Eye banks are non-profit organizations.

How does the eye bank ensure safe corneal tissue for transplantation?

The donated eyes and the donor's medical history are evaluated by the eye bank in accordance with the Eye Bank Association of America's (EBAA) strict Medical Standards. EBAA provides standards for eye banks to use in training personnel to evaluate donor eyes.

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