The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye. The cornea also plays a key role in vision. As light enters the eye, it is refracted, or bent, by the outside shape of the cornea. The curvature of this outer layer helps determine how well your eye can focus on objects close up and far away. If the cornea becomes damaged through disease, infection, or injury, the resulting scars or discoloration can interfere with vision by blocking or distorting light as it enters the eye.
Damage to the cornea can be caused by injury, infection or disease. Some common corneal dystrophies are: Keratoconus (cornea thins, changes shape), Fuch’s dystrophy (inner most layer deteriorates), Lattice dystrophy (abnormal protein fibers).
Depending on the severity of injury, disease, or infection determines if a corneal transplant is needed. These conditions can cause blurred/hazy vision, pain, light sensitivity, excessive tearing. Corneal blindness may be partial to complete corneal opacity.
An ophthalmologist evaluates patients with corneal issues and decides if a corneal transplant is needed to restore vision.
Under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act hospitals are required to call in every death to their area Organ Procurement Organization, so every death is a potential donor.
Upon death, potential donors are screened for infectious processes, certain diseases/conditions, high risk behaviors to determine if they meet the eligibility requirements. Potential donors are then further screened to ensure the organ donation will not cause harm in a recipient.
Designating yourself on your driver’s license as an Organ Donor is considered first person consent – meaning you have given legal permission upon your passing for your organs to be donated.
Talk about it – even if you do not register yourself as an Organ Donor, discuss what your wishes are with your family and loved ones. Here is a form you can use to notify your family of your wishes to donate.
Organ procurement organizations will reach out to the family of someone that has passed to ask permission for organ donation. It’s never too soon to have the conversation.
Donating the corneas can restore sight for two people with partial or complete corneal blindness.
Yes, if you decide to be comfortable at home with hospice care and would still like to be considered for donation please contact the Eye Bank and we can work with the funeral home you choose to coordinate the donation. As always you would be screened to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria.
The Eye Bank covers the cost of the supplies and testing for the corneal recovery process. There is no cost to the family for the corneal donation.