Eye bank common questions

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 organisations.

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 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. 

For more information on the corneal transplant operation, please corneal graft.

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.

Why should eyes be donated?

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 my medical treatment be affected if I am 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.

How great is the need for corneas?

The need for corneal tissue is never satisfied, as patients who might benefit from the procedure are regularly identified. Corneal tissue can also only be stored for a limited amount of time. To date, the use of artificial tissue for transplantation has been unsuccessful.

Will the recipient be told who donated the corneas?

The gift is made anonymously, and specific information about the donor or his/her family is not available to the recipient. They eye bank will convey a recipient's thanks to the donor family.

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.

If I have already signed a donor card, how can I make sure my wishes are respected?

Tell your family you want to be an eye or organ donor.

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.