Why Donate For Eye Research?
Donations for research will help to improve thousands of lives. One donor can provide two corneas for transplantation; but the additional donation of eye tissue for research can help thousands who suffer from eye disease and vision loss. It is your decision what you would like to donate, but please consider sharing the gift of sight and supporting research to end vision loss and blindness.
What exactly are the cornea and eye tissue
Cornea The clear outer covering of your eye that covers the iris (colored part of the eye) and the pupil. This part of the eye is responsible for focusing light so that you can see. When it is removed it is about the size of a dime and looks very similar to a contact lens. If it becomes damaged or cloudy you can’t focus the light and it will not pass through the cornea limiting vision or causing corneal blindness.
Conjucntiva A thin layer in front of the sclera (white of the eye) and lining the eye lids. It helps to protect this area so that you don’t get infections in your eye. If you have allergies or infections this area will be red and it can become swollen and painful. It can lead to vision loss if not treated.
Lacrimal GlandWhat produces tears. It is located under the upper eyelid. The lacrimal gland helps to keep your eye moist and clean. If you have a problem with your lacrimal gland, such as allergies, your eye can become infected, itchy, dry and red.
LensLocated behind the cornea and helps to bring items you are looking at into focus. The ciliary muscle helps us to focus our lens. As we age, the lens becomes harder and the ciliary muscle is not able to work as well which is why many people have a hard time focusing their eyes as they get older. Things such as reading, or other fine detailed work, become more difficult without glasses. The lens is what is replaced in cataract surgery.
Aqueous HumorLocated between the cornea and the lens of the eye. It is a thin watery substance that helps to give the cornea its shape and nourishes the cornea and lens of the eye. Glaucoma is one disease that is caused by an increased build-up of aqueous humor.
RetinaThis is where the images you are seeing are put together and sent to the brain. Part of the retinal area is the macula which is responsible for how clear our vision is, how we see color and our depth perception. Another part of the retina is the poles. It is important to study poles to see how the macula, optic nerve and retina affect vision.
What are some of the diseases being researched?
GlaucomaGlaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Glaucoma is a group of diseases involving progressive damage to the retina and optic nerve. Researchers can grow retinal and optic nerve cells from research donor cells to study what is normal and to look at changes caused by the disease. They are also discovering the genes that cause glaucoma that will help us to understand this disease and discover new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent this sight- threatening disease.
Cataracts New surgical techniques to treat cataracts and improve manufactured lenses are only some of the uses for lens and whole globe research tissue.
Macular DegenerationPoles are used to study optic nerve diseases and macular degeneration.
Diabetic Eye DiseaseThe effects of diabetes and hypertension on the eye are also being studied to help understand how these diseases affect vision to improve methods of treatment and early detection.
Dry Eye Disease, Red Eyes, and AllergiesResearchers use the lacrimal gland and conjunctiva tissue to study tears including dry eye disease, red eye disease and allergies and how they affect vision and comfort for those who suffer from these conditions. The study of the function of the tissue helps scientists learn about how medications work and develop new medications.
Who can donate for research?
Ages 2 and over can donate eye tissue for research. There is no upper age limit for research donation. People with most diseases can donate eye tissue; including: most cancers, lung and heart disease, diabetes, a history of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and those who have had some previous eye surgeries. If someone has had one or more of these conditions it does not exclude them from being a donor!
If you are interested in donation or have questions please call the Kansas Eye Bank & Cornea Research Center at 316.260.8220.