Why be an eye donor?

Tens of thousands of people a year have their sight restored through corneal transplants. Hundreds of thousands more are helped through research. One eye donor can give two people the gift of sight. Cornea transplant has a success rate that exceeds 95%.

Who can be an eye donor?

Almost anyone can be an eye donor, including candidates with cataracts, poor eyesight (wearing glasses or contacts), or those with a diagnosis of cancer. Age does not prohibit eye donation.

What is an eye bank?

An eye bank obtains, medically evaluates, and distributes eye donations for use in cornea transplantation, research and education. Eye banks are non-profit organizations.

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye. It is the main element for focusing. If it becomes cloudy, vision will be dramatically reduced. This can be caused by disease or injury.

Why would someone need a cornea?

A cornea can be damaged as a result of injury, infection, or corneal disease such as Fuchs' Dystrophy or keratoconus.

What is a corneal transplant?

A cornea transplant is surgery to replace a segment of an impaired cornea with a segment of a healthy donor cornea. The cornea has no blood vessels, so matching a donor to a recipient is not necessary, as in the case of organ donation.

Will the quality of my medical treatment be affected if I register to become a donor?

The number one priority in the healthcare setting is to save lives. Donation can only be considered after death, with the cooperation of your family members. Prior to death, transplant physicians are not involved in your medical care.

Will the donor family pay or receive any fees for donation?

No. Any costs associated with eye donation are absorbed by the eye bank. It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs and tissue.

What does my religion think about donation?

Most religions support donation and consider donation a great gift. Check with your religious leader for any specific questions.

Will the recipients be told who donated the corneas?

No. The gift of sight is made anonymously. Specific information about the donor or donor family is not available to the recipient. However, SightLife does encourage recipients to write an anonymous letter of thanks to the donor family. We are a confidential "bridge" between donor families and recipients.

My loved one's corneas were used for research and training. Can you explain further what that means?

Saying "yes" to donation is a courageous and thoughtful decision that is celebrated by SightLife and by people in need worldwide. There are a variety of research projects that go on domestically and abroad that help address the prevention and elimination of cornea defects and degenerations, and we send some of these donations to help doctors and researchers uncover solutions. In particular, our research projects support case studies on macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. In order to guarantee that future transplants are performed successfully, SightLife and corneal surgeons need their skills to need to be practiced and mastered. In some cases corneas that are not suitable for transplant are not matched to a specific project. We often donate these generously given corneas to our technicians and transplant surgeons to train in laser techniques and practice cutting edge surgical procedures. The research and training that goes on allows for huge progress in our ultimate mission: to eliminate corneal blindness worldwide. You and your loved one are contributing to this mission in a big way.

If I am an eye donor, can I still have an open casket funeral?

If a viewing is possible, donation typically does not prevent a viewing.

How can I be sure I am a donor?

You can register today to become a donor! You can also sign up automatically by clicking “yes” when you obtain or renew your driver's license. You should also discuss your wishes with your family.

What tissue and organs can I donate?

Tissues include eyes, skin, bone, heart valves, and tendons. Organs that can be donated include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. While corneal transplants make up the majority of eye transplant procedures, the sclera (or "white" of the eye) can also be transplanted.