Cornea/Eye Donation


Cornea blindness can be the results from injury, infection or disease. Sight in many cases can be restored by receiving a cornea transplant. Cornea transplantation, other eye surgeries and eye research can only take place if someone donates the precious gift of sight.

After the eye bank recovers the cornea, it is evaluated, tested, prepared for surgery and distributed to the surgeons for their patients in need. Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complications of diabetes and other sight disorders rely on human eye donations because many eye problems cannot be simulated in a laboratory environment. These studies advance the discovery of the causes and effects of these conditions, therefore leading to new treatments and cures.

The Cornea

The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer – a thin, clear, dome-shaped piece of tissue that covers the front of the eye and acts as the eye’s primary lens, controlling and focusing the light that enters the eye. It is our window to the world. A cornea that is removed from a donor is about the thickness and consistency of a contact lens.

A surgeon can remove a patient’s damaged cornea and replace is with a clear, healthy cornea that has been donated. More than 50,000 corneal transplants are performed in the United States each year, with a success rate of more than 90%.

Most People Can Be Donors

Most people are eligible to give the gift of sight including individuals who have cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, poor vision or COPD. Specific eligibility will be determined by the eye bank at the time of death. There are very few diseases that would prevent donation.

Frequently Asked Questions


If I am in an accident, and the hospital knows that I want to be a donor, they will withhold treatment and not attempt to save my life?

No. Medical professionals will do everything they can to save your life. The doctors who work to save your life are not the same doctors involved with donation and transplantation. It is only after every attempt has been made to save your life that donation becomes an option.

San Antonio Eye Bank

Will the recipient be told who donated the corneas?

No. The gift of sight is made anonymously. The identity of all parties is kept confidential. The donor family and the transplant recipient may receive such information as age, gender and state of residence. Individually, the recipient may be told the circumstances of death, and the donor's family may be informed of circumstance the transplants was needed. The donation agencies facilitate correspondence and meetings initiated by either the donor family or recipient and agreed to by both parties. 


Does my religion support organ, eye and tissue donation?

All major religions support donation as a final act of compassion and generosity. If you have questions in this regard, we encourage you to consult with your religious leader.


Is there any delay in funeral arrangements?

No. Cornea and eye tissue procurement is performed within hours of death. The procurement procedure takes about an hour and does not interfere with funeral arrangements.  


What happens if corneas are not suitable for transplant?

The donor’s medical condition and corneas are carefully evaluated. 

Corneas determined to be unsuitable for transplant may be used

for medical research and education.  

Research on glaucoma, retinal disease, eye complications of diabetes 

and other sight disorders helps to advance the discovery of the cause

and effects of these conditions. This can then lead to new treatments

and cures. 


What is an eye bank?

An eye bank obtains, medically evaluates and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation, research, and education. Eye banks are non-profit organizations.  


How does the eye bank ensure safe corneal tissue for transplantation?

The donated eyes and the donor's medical history are evaluated by the eye bank in accordance with the Eye Bank Association of America's (EBAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  


Many other organizations promote eye, organ, and tissue donation in our community and across the United States.