The Gift of Sight - Agree to Donate Your Corneas

Left: A normal, healthy cornea. Right: An eye with a donated cornea transplant (notice the sutures). The previously damaged cornea has been removed, and a healthy donor cornea has been transplanted. (©SFG)
Left: A normal, healthy cornea. Right: An eye with a donated cornea transplant (notice the sutures). The previously damaged cornea has been removed, and a healthy donor cornea has been transplanted. (©SFG)

Ever looked at your driver's license, in the area marked "donations." If you look closely, you can elect to donate your corneas if you have passed away. If you've never thought about what corneal donation is, or why its important, read this article, and you'll hopefully reconsider.

Overview

At the very front of the normal eye, is the clear cornea. More than just a front window, the clear cornea focuses most of the light entering the eye, onto the retina.

Injury or disease can damage the clear cornea, making it opaque. Because light cannot pass through, vision can be reduced, blurred, or lost.

Corneal transplantation is a technically refined surgical procedure used in very difficult cases, where the cornea is damaged beyond repair. During the surgery, the damaged cornea is removed. The clear donor cornea replaces the damaged one; and vision can be restored.

Transplant Surgery

After a cornea has been donated from a deceased person, it is taken and re-sized into a button. It is now the exact size of the portion of cornea that will be removed for a patient undergoing transplant surgery.

Next, a circular trephine incises the damaged cornea. Special micro-scissors complete the incision. The damaged cornea is removed, and the clear donor cornea is placed.

Temporary sutures hold the donor cornea during healing. The sutures are eventually removed, and vision is restored.

How It Works

1. The normally clear cornea has become damaged and cannot focus light 2. The damaged cornea is excised and removed. 3. A healthy, clear donor cornea is transplanted. 4. Sutures, which will later dissolve, are used to hold the cornea in place. (©SFG)
1. The normally clear cornea has become damaged and cannot focus light 2. The damaged cornea is excised and removed. 3. A healthy, clear donor cornea is transplanted. 4. Sutures, which will later dissolve, are used to hold the cornea in place. (©SFG)

While synthetic corneas have been created and implanted, these are often expensive, and still in the experiment stage. Corneal transplant surgery has provided complete restoration of vision to many throughout the world, mostly due to the valuable gift of donors. Donors can be of any age and background.

Imagine, you yourself allowing someone to see their granddaughter's face. Please, reconsider signing your donor card today, and give the gift of sight.


© Matthew Gordon, 2011


*This article is a simple explanation article, and should not be taken as medical fact. A doctor should be consulted for all medical related actions.

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Ms57Classic 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Since my corneal transplant I have become an advocate on organ and tissue donation. I am glad that you decided to write this. I know first hand the importance of donors!!

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