March marks the beginning of National Eye Donor Month. Learn more about what it means to become an eye donor through some of the frequently asked questions below. Content courtesy of Heartland Lions Eye Bank:
How do I become an eye donor?
The simplest way to register to become an eye, organ and tissue donor is to put your name on your state’s first-person consent donor registry. A list of donor registries can be found at www.donatelife.net. However, although your decision to donate is legally binding, we encourage you to make sure that you let your family or next of kin know of your wishes to donate so there is no confusion upon your passing.
What is your criteria for eye donors?
Almost anyone can be an eye donor, regardless of a history of poor vision or illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. Under the following conditions donation cannot occur: HIV or AIDS, active hepatitis, active syphilis, rabies, viral encephalitis, or active meningitis. There is no age limit on eye donation, although Heartland Lions Eye Banks will offer corneal tissue for transplant from donors between the ages of 2 and 75. Donor tissue that does not fall within that specified age range is used for vital ocular research.
Why would someone need a cornea transplant?
There are a variety of reasons why someone might be suffering from vision loss and require a corneal transplant. These can include eye diseases such as Fuch’s dystrophy, in which the endothelial cells of the cornea start dying off, or conditions like keratoconus which causes the cornea to distort. Other reasons can include cornea injuries or infections.
What does a corneal transplant surgery entail?
The type of transplant depends on the eye disease or injury and the preference of the eye surgeon. In some instances, such as repairing a corneal injury, the entire cornea may need to be transplanted. Another cornea transplant option is Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty, or DSAEK, surgery in which the corneal surgeon replaces only the inner most layer of the cornea. In many cases, DSAEK surgery offers less pain and a shorter recovery time in comparison to traditional cornea surgeries. If eye tissue cannot be used for transplant, it can be offered to ocular researchers across the U.S. who are working on discovering the causes of and cures for vision loss.
Take care of your eyes! To learn more about Optometry and Ophthalmology services offered through Ozarks Community Hospital, contact Dr. Delport and Dr. Warbinton’s offices at (417) 837-4239 or visit www.OCHonline.com for more information.