Why Eye Donation is Critical for Ocular Research
When someone makes the generous pledge to become an eye donor to give the gift of sight, Heartland Lions Eye Banks makes every effort to fulfill the donor’s request and provide donated tissue to a cornea recipient in need.
But what happens if the cornea can’t be transplanted? Was the donor’s pledge in vain?
For decades, ocular researchers from across the U.S. have partnered with the Eye Bank in the mission to save sight. If donated corneas are not suitable for transplant, the Eye Bank, with consent from the donor family, may offer the tissue to those researching the causes of and the cures for eye disorders and diseases. Because of these researchers’ tireless efforts, the sight of thousands, even millions, might soon be saved.
Current research projects include the removal and transplantation of pigment epithelium (the cell layer which nourishes the retinal cells), examining the formation of cataracts in the diabetic and aging process, and in the case of the University of California, Davis Murphy/Russell laboratory, the study of glaucoma therapy.
Glaucoma currently affects 80 million people across the world, and once sight is lost, it can never be regained. The Murphy/Russell laboratory is determining how tissue changes are influencing the cells that regulate eye pressure. In this research, donor tissue is essential for examining the human disease process.
Explained Dr. Christopher J. Murphy:
"The goal of the research is to develop therapies to return the tissue back to that way it was before the onset of glaucoma and allow the cells that control eye pressure to function normally. Additionally, specimens are routinely cultured to obtain corneal epithelial and cornea stromal cells. These specimens have enabled studies that document the profound effect that biophysical cues (such as compliance or relative stiffness) have on a wide menu of corneal cell behaviors.
Results of these investigations have immediate relevance to our basic understanding of corneal biology, the impact of biophysical cues in wound healing and corneal disease states as well as the design and fabrication of artificial corneas with improved performance.”
The Murphy/Russell laboratory is just one of the many research facilities that receives tissue from the Eye Bank. For a complete list of other current ocular research projects, visit our Support of Ocular Research page.
By pledging to become an eye donor, your gift could potentially save the sight of up to two cornea transplant recipients or thousands through ocular research. Either way, your donation will help improve the quality of life for someone suffering from a debilitating vision condition.