November is Eye Donation Month!
(Video courtesy of Eye Bank Association of America)
Did you know that YOU have the power to build hope and restore sight by becoming an eye donor? Registering as an eye, organ and tissue donor is easy and will truly change the lives of others.
We have six corneal surgeons at Minnesota Eye Consultants who perform cornea transplants on a regular basis, bringing vision back to those in need. In fact, our surgeons perform more corneal transplants than any other group in Minnesota, including the academic institutions. We do about 400 surgeries a year, which is approximately half of the transplants done in the state.
What is the Cornea?
The cornea is the transparent front part of your eye, covering the iris (the colored part) and pupil (the black center). The cornea is often compared to the windshield of a car, as it’s the barrier between the inside of the eye and the outside world. Images enter your eye as light, then are transmitted and sent to your brain for processing. This is how you see.
Why would someone need a Cornea Transplant?
Cornea transplants are usually performed when patients lose vision as a result of an eye disease, infection, or an injury that causes scarring or a disruption in the vision. Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy and Keratoconus are two common reasons we perform cornea transplants.
Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy is a condition in which the “pumper cells” that line the endothelium begin to deteriorate and aren’t as effective at pumping liquid from the cells. This excess fluid in the cornea causes swelling, which leads to cloudy and blurry vision.
Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to become thin, weak and misshapen. The cornea actually bulges outward, causing blurry vision and makes it very difficult to fit the patient for corrective contact lenses or even glasses.
What is a Corneal Transplant?
During a cornea transplant procedure, the damaged corneal tissue is removed and replaced with a healthy donor cornea. There are several different kinds of transplants, depending on the need of the patient. In some circumstances, only a small portion of the cornea is damaged, so a partial transplant can be performed (a DSEK or DMEK), offering a quicker recovery. Other patients require a full-thickness corneal transplant where the entire cornea is replaced.
Please consider giving the gift of sight by registering as an eye, organ or tissue donor. This selfless act will no doubt have a monumental impact on someone’s quality of vision (and life!).
For more information about eye, organ and tissue donations, please visit the Eye Bank Association of America.