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InSights

A Fitting Tribute

Dean Vavra at Iowa Donor Garden

by Dean Vavra

This is my thirty-seventh official year as an eye banker, but in a way eye banking has been a part of my life much longer than that. A genetic eye disease called granular dystrophy type 2 afflicted my grandmother, my mother and four of my brothers. (I was lucky enough to escape the condition.) This is a particularly cruel form of blindness that causes lesions to grow on the cornea, and even after a corneal transplant these painful opacities grow back into the graft tissue. So, my mother, grandmother and siblings all required multiple corneal transplants. In fact, in the early 1950s, before I was born, my mother and grandmother had two of the first corneal transplants performed in America.Read More

Miracles In Sight Seeks to Expand Adoption of Innovative Surgery with Prepared DMEK Grafts

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Across the world, Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) is becoming the standard of care for endothelial dysfunction. Miracles In Sight (MIS), a nonprofit eye bank that recovers, processes and distributes ocular tissue, is helping reduce the learning curve for this new surgical technique by offering traditional, pre-loaded and free-floating DMEK grafts.

“Corneal surgeons are increasingly finding DMEK to be the best option for their patients, however, the possibility of tearing the thin, delicate tissue can be stressful for surgeons preparing donor tissue themselves,” said MIS Director of Research and Development Isaac Perry. “The pre-loaded and free-floating DMEK grafts from MIS eliminates this step.”

The DMEK surgical procedure involves transplanting donor Descemet membrane and endothelial cells into a recipient with a damaged or diseased corneal endothelium. The surgery takes less than 30 minutes and has demonstrated the ability to restore sight in legally blind patients. Surgeon partners collaborating with MIS for nearly a year have experienced positive outcomes using pre-loaded and free-floating DMEK tissue, reporting that it saves time in the operating room.

“I have been performing DMEK for several years and one of the more challenging steps in this procedure is donor tissue preparation,” said Terry Semchyshyn, M.D., director of the Duke Eye Center for Vision and Correction in Winston-Salem, N.C. “The tissue handled as well as it did with my own surgeon-cut tissue, and I am pleased I made the switch. I encourage any surgeon currently performing DMEK to consider trying pre-loaded tissue.”

MIS offers customizations for DMEK tissue to meet a surgeon’s requirements. DMEK tissue can be pre-punched to specific diameters, marked with “S” stamps to aid in graft orientation or pre-loaded into a modified Jones Tube for injection.

“Pre-loaded DMEK from Miracles In Sight saves me 10 minutes per case and relieves the stress of tearing tissue during preparation,” says David Tremblay, M.D., of the Mann Eye Institute in Austin, Texas. “The tissue is pre-stained and marked with an ‘S’ stamp and simply needs to be attached to a syringe and injected into the eye. The experienced technicians at MIS are highly skilled with DMEK preparation. I couldn’t imagine going back to preparing tissue myself.”

MIS strives to be at the forefront of ophthalmological care and continually seeks new and innovative techniques to fight corneal blindness as they are developed and perfected.

“We want to help expand the use of this innovative surgical technique,” added Perry. “Prepared DMEK grafts simplify the procedure and offering this service is a logical extension of our organization’s mission to aid surgeons in restoring sight.”

About Miracles In Sight

Miracles In Sight (formerly the North Carolina Eye Bank), based in Winston-Salem, N.C., USA is one of the largest eye banks in the world. The mission of Miracles In Sight is to support the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of sight through transplant, research, education and innovation. A significant part of this mission is stewardship focused on training and educating the medical community and supporting partners and organizations around the world. For more information, visit www.miraclesinsight.org.

Miracles In Sight Now Offers Options for DMEK Grafts To Facilitate More Successful Transplantation Procedures

preloaded dmek graft

At Miracles In Sight, we collaborate closely with our surgeon partners to determine what we can do to help them better serve their patients, and then we focus on meeting those needs. To achieve that, we are constantly looking for new and innovative techniques that allow surgeons to achieve more positive outcomes. That’s why we are adding both Pre-punched and Preloaded DMEK grafts to our tissue processing services.  

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Miracles In Sight Fills Key Leadership Role

New Position to Help Change Future of Company and Eye Banking

Isaac Perry New Leadership Role MIS
Miracles In Sight has promoted Isaac Perry to Director of Research and Development.

(Winston-Salem, NC) – Miracles In Sight (MIS), one of the largest eye banks in the world is proud to announce it has promoted Isaac Perry to Director of Research and Development. Perry previously served as Director of Clinical Services at MIS.

In this newly created position, Perry is moving from the core, day-to-day operations of the eye bank to one that’s focused on the company’s future growth.

“I’ll be developing new products and services we can offer to both our current corneal surgeon partners and new customers,” Perry says. “The eye banking industry is maturing, and we are looking forward to ways we can contribute to advancement in our field.”

“Through Isaac’s role, MIS will be able to expand our services beyond traditional eye banking,” says Brenda Horn, Vice President of Business Development. “We can now look at products and services directed beyond the sole discipline of cornea that support our mission of restoration, preservation, and enhancement of sight through transplant, research and innovation – making it possible to help a wider base of patients who suffer from different sources of sight impairment.”

Perry is looking forward to using his extensive background in eye banking in this new position. He began at MIS more than eight years ago as a lab technician, working his way up to supervisor and management roles. He has a BS in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MBA from Wake Forest University, and has completed his core coursework for an Masters in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is also planning on taking the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® prestigious Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam in the coming months.

“I’ve always been intrigued by abstract concepts and solving problems,” Perry says. “I’m excited to use a combination of my business and medical backgrounds to drive the future of MIS. Historically, we’ve provided a safe cornea for transplant. With a new Director of Research and Development role, we can move forward to find ways to help optimize patient and practice flow. That could reduce the number of trips required for a patient to go to various clinics. We also have the potential for new service offerings that may optimize post-operative outcomes. Additionally, our goal is to offer brand new products that are not available yet, with an emphasis being better patient care and cost savings.”

“We have accrued a wealth of knowledge in our more than half-century of experience at MIS,” Perry adds. “We’re now in a position to use that to collaborate with our doctors to improve cost, quality and access to healthcare for patients we serve in new and different ways.”

About Miracles In Sight

Miracles In Sight (formerly the North Carolina Eye Bank), based in Winston-Salem, NC, USA is one of the largest eye banks in the world. The mission of Miracles In Sight is support the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of sight through transplant, research, education and innovation. A significant part of this mission is stewardship focused on training and educating the medical community and supporting partners and organizations around the world.

Miracles In Sight Supports Cornea Research at Duke Eye Center

Miracles In Sight featured in Duke Eye Center's Vision 2017 magazine

Everyone knows that the human eye is made up of distinct parts and regions—the cornea, the retina, the optic nerve, and so on. It is less commonly understood, says Daniel Saban, PhD, that funding for research and treatment of eye disorders tends to be similarly divided and compartmentalized.

That’s why a recent $500,000 gift from Miracles In Sight to Duke Eye Center to support early career faculty research into diseases and disorders of the cornea is so important. The support, Saban says, brings together two rare but critical resources: funding for corneal research and expert scientists with the knowledge and skills to make important advances.

Read the entire article in Duke Eye Center’s 2017 Vision Magazine.

Vision 2017

Inspiration. Collaboration. Innovation.