eye donor transplant facts

Fast Facts & FAQs

Here are some facts and other information about Miracles In Sight and the eye banking industry to help clarify eye donation processes.

Fast Facts About Eye Donation

97%+ Over 97% of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision!
84,297  Eye banks in the United States provided 84,297 corneas for transplant in 2017 and provided a further 28,000 corneas for use internationally.
1,800,000 Since 1961, more than 1,800,000 men, women, and children worldwide have had their sight restored through corneal transplantation.
0 Eye banks have successfully met needs in the United States for corneal and sclera tissue for several years. There are no patient waiting lists at this time. Surgeons request the tissue once a surgery date has been scheduled.

Source: The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA)

General FAQs

The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye. It is the main focusing element of the eye. Should the cornea become cloudy from disease, injury, infection or any other cause, vision can be dramatically reduced.
A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure that replaces a disk-shaped segment of an impaired cornea with a similarly shaped piece of a healthy donor cornea. More than 95 percent of corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.
An eye bank is a not-for-profit organization that obtains, medically evaluates, processes, and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation, research, and education.

Donor FAQs

Anyone. Cataracts, poor eyesight or age do not prohibit you from becoming a donor. 
Yes. Most forms of cancer do not preclude use of donor corneas for transplantation.
No. There is generally a use for eyes of any age. Donors give Miracles In Sight the opportunity to enhance the lives of others through transplantation or research.
No. Previous eye surgery or diseases of the eye do not automatically disqualify donation.
All donors are carefully evaluated. Should the corneas be determined unsuitable for transplant, they can be used for research and education.
In addition to corneas used for surgical procedures, tens of thousands of eyes are used annually for research and education. Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complications from diabetes and other sight disorders, benefit from donation because many eye problems cannot be simulated. These studies advance the discovery of the causes and effects of specific eye conditions that lead to new treatments and cures.
There are three simple ways to become a donor:
  1. Sign up at the Department of Motor Vehicles and put the heart on your license.
  2. Go to donatelifenc.org (in North Carolina), donatelifesc.org (in South Carolina), or donatelifetexas.org (in Texas), and sign up to be a donor.
  3. Indicate your wishes in advance directives.

It is also important that you share your wishes with your family, so they are aware of your desire to help others through eye, organ and tissue donation!

No. Eye tissue recovery is performed within hours after death. Your family may proceed normally with funeral arrangements including open casket viewing.
No. It costs the donor family nothing to donate eyes, organs or tissue. The retrieving eye, organ or tissue organization pays the entire cost. The donor family receives no reimbursement. Furthermore, it is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs or tissue in the United States.

Recipient FAQs

Generally, no. The gift of sight is made anonymously. Information about the donor or donor family is not made available to the recipient and likewise, recipient information is not made available to the donor family.

  • In your time of sorrow, I just want you to know that what your family member has done for me has been life-giving, life-enhancing and life-changing. Every day I say a prayer: ”Please Grace, don’t ever let me forget to be thankful and humble and mindful and grateful for I could be blind.

    Bill H.

  • I feel honored that God made that sassy, smart, funny and compassionate girl my sister. I am a better person because of it. I know without a doubt that she would be so happy that her eyes were able to help you.

    Heather F.

  • It was taking me out of the darkness and putting me into the marvelous light. I did not realize I had so many freckles on my face until my transplant!


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