Giving your eyes to medicine and research after your death as an organ donor is a brave act. You could save the sight of one or two people who need new corneas, or you could even support millions of people who profit from eye tissue studies.
The most common use of donated eye tissue is cornea transplants. Nearly 47,000 cornea transplants are performed each year to help people with corneal injuries or keratoconus regain their vision. It is important to note, however, that other parts of the eye are just as important in the fight to save sight.
In addition to the cornea, scientists need tissue from the retina, lens, and other eye sections to figure out what causes and cures eye disorders and diseases. Researchers hope to find new therapies and remedies for diabetic eye disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma by studying this donated tissue.
Who Are Qualified to Donate Their Eyes?
Anyone, regardless of age, race, or medical background, may donate their eyes. Medical practitioners will decide if the organs and tissues are appropriate for transplantation or testing at the time of death.
Some people wonder if organ, eye, and tissue donation are against their faith. Do not worry; most religions accept these gifts as the ultimate act of kindness. If you have any concerns, speak with your minister, preacher, rabbi, imam, or other religious leaders.
How Can You Be an Eye Donor?
First, inform your family that you want to donate your eyes before you die. Eye banks, which assist in distributing donated eyes to medical and research institutions, will still inquire if you told your family that you wished to donate your organs. Even if you have an advance directive—legal documents that outline your preferences for end-of-life treatment and other decisions—this is valid.
You can declare your desire to be an organ donor in several states by signing a card at the driver’s license bureau. You have the choice of donating your skin, kidneys, or other tissues.
Contact your local eye bank or the organ procurement organization (also known as OPO or OPA) for more information about becoming a donor in your state. They will clarify how you can express your wishes for liver, eye, and tissue donation.
If you want to donate an eye, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to improve the quality of life for someone who is blind or partially blind.