- What is a cornea and how do cornea transplants restore sight?
- Who can donate eyes?
- How can I donate my eyes?
- Is there a cost to donate?
- Would donating delay funeral arrangements?
- Can we have an open casket?
- Does my religion support eye, organ and tissue donation?
- Is cancer a rule-out for donation?
- If I wear glasses can I still donate?
- Are families told who will receive the donation?
- Can the family designate a recipient?
- What kind of research is done with eye donations?
- How long do recipients usually wait for a cornea?
- How long can a cornea be stored?
- What happens to unused tissue?
The cornea is a clear dime-sized tissue that covers the front of the eye. If the cornea becomes clouded through disease or injury, vision is impaired and sometimes lost entirely.
The only substitute for a human cornea is another human cornea donated at death by someone who thus leaves a living legacy.
Almost everyone can donate his or her eyes. Donor tissue that can’t be used for transplant can, with consent, be used for medical education and research purposes.
The best way to become an eye, organ and tissue donor is to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry. Complete an enrollment form (include your signature) and send it to:
The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration
120 Wall Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10005
Registered donors receive written confirmation of their enrollment from the New York State Health Department within 4 to 6 weeks from the time of receipt.
Thousands of New Yorkers waiting for health restoring transplants can benefit from eye, organ and tissue donations. Enroll to become a donor and help spread the word to family and friends. Send an email message from The Eye-Bank to others.
Find us on Facebook!
Become a fan and post your news as a “future donor.” You can tell your story of why you think donation is important and upload your photo to earn your “donor” badge.
Sign up today and see what your eyes can do for others.
There is no cost to donate. Transplant agencies pay any costs associated with recovery of organs and tissues from donors.
Donating should not delay funeral arrangements. It may take additional time, usually no more than four hours, to coordinate the donation process with the funeral home, and for any extra efforts taken to prepare the body for presentation.
Eye donation should not prevent having an open casket service.
All major religions support donation. However, if you have concerns about your religion’s position, please get in touch with your religious leader/representative.
No, cancer does not automatically prohibit eye donation.
Yes, you can! People who have poor vision and wear glasses, or have had previous eye diseases or surgery can still donate, since these conditions may not affect the cornea. Eyes donated to The Eye-Bank that are not medically suitable for transplant may be used for medical research and education. For example if you have had LASIK surgery you can donate for research and medical education purposes.
It is Eye-Bank policy to keep donor and recipient identities completely confidential. However, certain information can be shared and The Eye-Bank offers to conduct correspondence between donor families and recipients as long as identities are kept anonymous. Recipients especially are encouraged to send thank-you notes to their donor families through The Eye-Bank.
Click here to learn how to write your donor family.
It is possible to designate a recipient although it is fairly unlikely that a donation would occur in a timely manner to facilitate a needed transplant. However, if at the time of death a family member is in need of a cornea transplant then The Eye-Bank will make every effort to match the donor tissue with that person.
Research into diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and diseases of the retina are advanced through eye donation. Read more about our research efforts in our Research section.
Cornea transplant surgery is typically an elective procedure allowing the surgeon and patient to choose the most convenient day for the surgery to take place. The need for emergency tissue is met within 24 hours.
The Eye-Bank does keep a “bank” of tissue in its laboratory. Fortunately, cornea tissue can be preserved and stored for several days before it must be used for transplant. However, since the demand for ocular tissue is so great most donor tissue is distributed within a day or two after its arrival.
Tissue not used for transplantation or research is disposed of in an ethical manner.