Your eye tissue, your legacy
How will you leave your legacy? You can help give the gift of sight to those who need it most by simply becoming an eye, tissue, and organ donor when renewing your drivers license. Join us and read more below to learn about how your decision to become a donor can change lives for the better.
Everyone is encouraged to become a donor with the knowledge that eligibility is determined near or at the time of death, and on a case by case basis after a thorough medical review. Patients with cancers, malignancies, diabetes, and macular degeneration may often be eligible as donors for transplant use, as well as many patients who wear glasses or contact lenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The gift of sight is made anonymously. Confidentiality is a priority, but you may choose to share your story. For more information about sharing you/your loved one’s story, see our Share Your Story page.
About the Eye
The cornea is the clear front window of the eye. It transmits light to the interior of the eye allowing us to see clearly. Injury, disease, or hereditary conditions can cause clouding, distortion, and scarring of the cornea. Corneal clouding, much like frost on a glass windowpane, blocks the clear passage of light to the back of the eye, reducing sight, sometimes even to the point of blindness. In addition, corneal injury and disease can be incredibly painful.
CAUSES OF CORNEAL INJURY
Knives, pencils, and other sharp objects can cause severe injury to the cornea. Fireworks, exploding batteries, and toxic chemicals, especially alkalis, can also result in severe scarring of the cornea. In fact, protection of the cornea is the reason emergency washing of the eye is necessary when exposed to toxic chemicals. Most corneal injuries are preventable with protective glasses and proper precautions when dealing with hazardous substances.
CAUSES OF CORNEAL DISEASE AND DEGENERATION
Infections, whether bacterial, fungal, or viral, are frequent causes of severe corneal damage and ulceration. Abnormal steepening of the cornea (keratoconus), degeneration occasionally following cataract surgery (corneal edema and swelling), and some aging processes can also affect the health of the cornea.
If the cornea becomes cloudy, the only way to restore sight is to transplant the cornea. Corneal transplantation (keratoplasty) is the most successful of all tissue transplants with an overall success rate of over 90%.
Corneal tissue for transplants comes from an eye bank, such as Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin. The process begins at the passing of someone who has been generous enough to become a donor. Surgeons register their transplant surgery dates with LEBW. At the appropriate time, staff contacts the surgeon. The operation consists of a transfer of the clear central part of the cornea from the donor’s eye to the patient’s eye. Soon after the operation, the patient can resume a normal life.
Return of best vision after corneal surgery may take up to a year after the operation, depending on the rate of healing and the health of the rest of the eye. Aswith transplant, rejection of the donated tissue is possible. The major signs of rejection are: redness of the eye or worsening of vision. If these occur, prompt return to the ophthalmologist is necessary, even if it is years after the original procedure.
REGULAR MEDICAL EYE EXAMINATIONS ARE IMPORTANT
Eye disease can strike at any age. Many eye diseases do not cause symptoms until the damage has already occured. Most blindness is preventable if diagnosed and treated early; therefore, regular medical examinations by an ophthalmologist are important! Why an ophthalmologist? Because only an ophthalmologist (MD) can provide total care for your eyes: medical, surgical, and optical.