About Eye Donation
Eye donation is the oldest form of organ and tissue donation, dating back to the first corneal transplant in 1905. Over 46,000 corneal transplants are performed each year in the United States, with thousands more performed worldwide. In fact, Heartland Lions Eye Banks provided tissue for 2,464 transplants in 2012.
The need for a cornea transplant can occur at any age because of a corneal disease, disorder or injury, such as Fuch's dystrophy or keratoconus. In many cases, without a transplant, a person can completely lose his or her sight, possibly affecting that person's quality of life and ability to work.
At this time, there is no completely artificial replacement that matches the ability of human corneal tissue to restore sight. That means when an eye donor makes the decision to give the gift of sight, a miracle can happen: vision can be saved.
Said a 7-year-old cornea recipient from Kenya, "My family and I are very grateful. Before the surgery I had no life. I was house-bound, couldn't socialize, go out, or enjoy doing my hobbies or even do my housework. I felt useless and couldn't make plans for my future. Having the surgery has given me a new lease on life."
The Human Eye
The cornea, the most frequently transplanted eye tissue, is the clear outer window window of the eye that covers the iris and pupil. It allows light into the eye, thus permitting sight. In addition, the sclera, or white of the eye, can be used in other surgeries as well, such as the rebuilding of an eardrum to restore hearing.