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
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
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
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
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
Will eye donation affect the appearance of the
No. Great care is taken to preserve the donor's appearance.
What happens if corneas are not suitable for
Donors and eyes are carefully evaluated. Corneas determined to
unsuitable for transplant may be used for medical research and
How do research and education benefit from eye
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
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
The donated eyes and the donor's medical history are evaluated by the