Every eye donor can impact the lives of
18 transplant recipients and help countless others through research
is a cornea?
The cornea is the clear, transparent front layer of the eye
which admits light and begins the refractive process, playing an
essential role in the clarity of a person’s vision. The cornea is also
an integral part of the eye’s structure, maintaining the eye’s spherical
shape and keeping foreign particles from entering the eye.
How does the cornea work?
Light rays enter the eye through the cornea, the clear front “window” of the eye.
The cornea’s refractive power bends the light in such a way that it passes freely through
the pupil to the eye’s crystalline lens. The lens changes its shape as needed to focus the
light sharply upon the retina, a light-sensitive layer of tissue inside the eye. The retina
transmits these light impulses to the optic nerve and on to the visual centers of the brain.
If the cornea becomes opaque or misshapen due to disease or trauma, light cannot enter
the eye properly, and the resulting vision is blurry or distorted. In some patients with corneal
disease or injury, a corneal transplant is the only hope for restoring their vision. All transplanted
corneal tissue comes from carefully screened deceased donors.
What is a corneal transplant?
A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure in which a patient’s diseased or damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy, clear cornea donated by a carefully screened deceased donor.
Who needs a corneal transplant?
A corneal transplant may be required due to the following conditions:
- Corneal failure after another eye surgery, such as cataract surgery
- Keratoconus, a disease causing abnormal curving and swelling of the cornea
- Hereditary corneal failure, such as Fuchs’ Dystrophy and Lattice Dystrophy
- Scarring following infection or injury
- Rejection after a first corneal transplant
A corneal transplant cannot treat all forms of blindness. However, for individuals with
corneal blindness that cannot be corrected with less invasive measures, a corneal transplant
remains the gold standard of treatment.
Can other parts of the eye be transplanted?
Yes. In addition to corneal tissue, the Florida Lions Eye Bank also provides scleral tissue
for surgery. The sclera is the tough, white, opaque portion of the eye. To prepare this tissue
for surgery, eye bank technicians recover whole eyes from donors and process the tissue
in the laboratory. The resulting scleral grafts are used during glaucoma surgeries or
Each whole eye can yield 8 individual pieces of scleral tissue,
in addition to one cornea. Thus, a single eye donor can impact the lives of 18 transplant
recipients, and countless others through research and education.