While most people are familiar with the concept of organ donation, many do not realize that part of the eye can be donated and transplanted, as well. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer surface of the eye. Every year, over 70,000 people receive a corneal transplant, and each of those transplants came from an organ donor. Unlike organ donation, most anyone can donate their cornea. The great thing about corneal tissue is that everyone is a universal donor. Your blood type does not have to match. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what color your eyes are or how good your eyesight is. Aside from those suffering from infections or a few highly communicable diseases, most people are suitable donors. To become a donor, all you need to do is mark a box on your driver’s license!
Dr. Michael Vrabec, a fellowship trained corneal specialist, transplants over 100 corneas every year. There are many reasons why a patient might need a cornea transplant, ranging from corneal disease to injury. Valley Eye Associates works with the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of restoring the Gift of Sight through recovery and transplantation of corneas. Without them, restoring sight to many cornea patients would be impossible!
For more information on donation and the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, visit their website.