Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on a question to view the answer.
What is an eye
The University of Louisville Lions Eye Bank recovers, medically
evaluates and distributes corneas and/or eyes donated by caring
individuals for the use in corneal transplantation, research and
education. The University of Louisville Lions Eye Bank is a
non-profit charitable organization.
What is the cornea?
The cornea is the thin, transparent portion of the eye. It is
the main focusing element of the eye allowing light to pass
through. Vision will be dramatically reduced if the cornea becomes
cloudy or scarred from disease, injury or infection.
What is corneal blindness?
Corneal blindness is a disorder that results from the cornea
becoming clouded or scarred, making a person unable to see. This
condition can result from a variety of diseases, injury or
What is a corneal transplant?
This is a surgical procedure which replaces the patient's cornea
with a healthy donor cornea.
Is the whole eye transplanted?
No. Only the cornea can be transplanted. The entire eye may be
used for valuable research and education.
Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complications due to
diabetes and other sight disorders helps to advance the discovery
of the cause and effects of these conditions. This then leads to
new treatments and cures.
How common is corneal
Corneal transplants are one of the most frequently performed
human transplant procedures. Since 1961, more than 700,000 corneal
transplants have been performed, restoring sight to men, women, and
children ranging in age from nine days to 103 years.
How successful is corneal
Over 90% of all corneal transplant operations successfully
restore the recipient's vision. Corneal transplants are one of the
most successful and frequently performed human transplant
Why should corneas be donated?
For corneal transplant there is no substitute for human tissue.
The transplantation process depends upon the priceless gift of
corneal donation from one human to another.
Who can be a donor?
Almost anyone! Cataracts, macular degeneration, poor eyesight,
cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease or age do not prevent you
from being a cornea and/or eye donor. It is important for
individuals wanting to be donors to inform family members of their
If a person has already signed a
donor card, a driver's license, or signed up on Kentucky's Donor
Registry (www.donatelifeky.org), how can they be sure that their
wishes regarding donation will be respected?
Tell your family you want to be a cornea donor. Donation is an
end of life decision. If you are suitable for donation at your time
of death, your family will be asked about cornea donation. So
please, talk to your family about your decision.
Will the quality of medical
treatment be affected if one is a known donor?
No. The quality of medical and nursing care will not change,
regardless of your decision to be a donor. Doctors, nurses and
other personnel who treat patients at the time of death are in no
way involved with transplant programs or possible recipients.
Donation is considered only after every effort has been made to
save the patient's life.
Will the recipient be told who
donated the corneas?
The gift of sight is made anonymously.
How great is the need for
Although more than 50,000 corneal transplants were provided for
transplant last year, the need for corneal tissue is never
satisfied. There is still a waiting list for corneal
Are there religious objections to
cornea, organ, or tissue donations?
No. Donation is an opportunity to help save a life or restore
someone's sight. Cornea, organ, and tissue donation are consistent
with the beliefs and attitudes of all major religions.
Is there a fee charged for
No. It is illegal to buy or sell human corneas, eyes, organs,
Is there any delay in funeral
No. Cornea and/or eye recoveries are performed within 16 hours
of death. Families may proceed with funeral arrangements without
delay or interruption.
How does the University of
Louisville Lions Eye Bank ensure safe corneal tissue for
Potential cornea donors are extensively screened for potential
diseases before allowing donation. Blood tests for diseases such as
AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis are performed to confirm that these will not
be transmitted to the recipient. Each donor's next of kin is
required to complete a medical and social history ionterview and
all notes from doctors are evaluated thoroughly by the eye bank in
accordance with the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) and the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strict Medical Standards.