Health Care Professionals
The success of the Eye Bank, to meet the needs of those who are waiting, relies on the cooperation of hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, ancillary staff, and the donor families who give consent for donation.
By assisting the Eye Bank in acquiring tissue, hospital personnel can have a direct role in reducing the waiting list. The Eye Bank acts as a liaison between the donor, next of kin, and recipient to coordinate ocular tissue transplantation. We rely on members of the medical profession at all levels to take the first step with the gift of sight by referring potential donors to the Eye Bank.
Under the Human Tissue Gift Act of British Columbia, any death that occurs in any hospital in BC is required to be reported to an organ donor agency (e.g. Eye Bank of BC). The Eye Bank, in conjunction with the hospital, then determines donor suitability.
Refer to the following link to obtain the full version of this legislation:
Frequently Asked Questions for Health Care Professionals
Whom do corneal transplants benefit?
There are several different reasons for requiring a corneal transplant. Some of the more common are as follows:
- Keratoconus – a disease where the central cornea thins and bulges forward
- Fuch’s Dystrophy – an hereditary disease in which the cells that maintain corneal clarity are gradually lost
- Aphakic and Pseudophakic bullous keratopathy – conditions where the cells that maintain corneal clarity are damaged as a result of cataract surgery
- Chemical/Physical injuries to the cornea
What is sclera used for?
There are a few reasons for requiring a scleral transplant. The major ones are as follows:
- Ocular implantation after enucleation – a synthetic eye implant is wrapped in sclera. The muscles are then attached to the sclera, which allows the artificial eye to move with the companion eye.
- Lid retraction – the sclera is used to reconstruct the eyelid
- Glaucoma surgery – a Ahmed valve is inserted into the eye to reduce intraocular pressure. The valve is covered with a piece of sclera to allow movement of the eyelids across the implant.
Is the whole eye transplanted?
- No, only the cornea (the clear, front part of the eye) is used for corneal transplants. The sclera (white part) is sometimes used for procedures such as glaucoma surgery and lid reconstruction. The rest of the eye can be used for research (if allowed from the consent) to aid in future treatment of eye disease.
Will a person be able to have an open-casket funeral?
- Yes – no one will know there has been an eye donation unless you tell them. In very few instances there may be a bit of bruising or swelling, but otherwise there should be no visible signs following donation.
Is the family told who will receive the eyes?
- No. A letter of appreciation is sent to the family. The actual identities of the donor and recipients are kept confidential under present laws. However, recipient and donor families can communicate with each other anonymously via the Eye Bank.
Can all blind people benefit from a corneal transplant?
- No, only those whose eyes have a defective cornea.
Can patients who wear glasses and/or who suffer from cataracts/glaucoma donate?
- Yes. Even totally blind people with healthy corneas can donate their eyes because there is no relationship between poor eyesight and donor eligibility.
Can cancer patients donate their eyes?
- Yes, most cancer patients can donate. Only those who have leukemia, lymphoma, or ocular cancers are ruled out.
What if I have an ethical/moral issue with eye donation?
- Although we appreciate that some are individually uncomfortable with the idea of eye donation, we emphasize that the decision for eye donation is personal. Please remember that if you do not refer any donors to us or refuse to approach the next of kin, you've taken that choice away from the family. In our experience, many donor families are unaware that they can donate and are grateful that they are able to help someone.