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Facts About Eyes

                                         Anatomy of the Eye






Optic Nerve
Intricate cord of nerve fibers between the eye and the brain. The visual "signal" runs from the retina to the brain through the optic nerve. Vision occurs in the brain.

The tough, white covering over most of the eye. Sclera protects the inside of the eye from harmful things like germs.

The black area in the middle of the iris. Light passes through the pupil to the retina. The pupil appears black because the back of the eye is dark and filled with fluid.

The clear, window-like covering over the iris. The cornea allows light to pass through to the retina. For good vision, it is very important the cornea remains clear and healthy.

The colored part of the eye. Similar to a camera's shutter, the iris controls the amount of light that enters the eye.


Retina Thin tissue covering the back of the eye with the specialized nerve cells that see color, light, and dark. Light is focused upon the retina much like the image of a photograph is focused upon the film in the back of a camera.

The clear, round object behind the iris. The lens helps to focus the things we look at by bending the light that passes from the front of the eye (cornea) to the back of the eye (retina). As we get older, certain types of light rays may cause the clear lens to become cloudy or yellow. When this happens, it is called a cataract.



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.

How great is the need for corneas?
Although more than 46,000 corneal transplants were performed last year, the need for corneal tissue is never satisfied. To date, the use of artificial tissue for transplantation has been unsuccessful.

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.

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.


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