Frequently Asked Questions

Why become an eye donor?

Every year, more than 46,000 people have their sight restored through cornea transplantation and hundreds of thousands are helped through important research initiatives to find cures for other blinding diseases. In addition to the cornea, the sclera (the white part of the eye) can also be used for ocular graft surgery in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. One eye donor can help up to 10 people through transplanted tissue. Today, cornea transplant surgery has an impressive success rate that exceeds 95%.

Who can be an eye donor?

Anyone. Cataracts, poor eyesight, and age do not prohibit eye donation.

What is VisionGift’s role in eye donation and transplantation?

VisionGift is an eye bank, that obtains, medically evaluates and distributes eye tissue donated by caring individuals for use in cornea transplantation, research, and education. The eye bank is a non-profit organization and is accredited and certified by the EBAA, FDA and the State of Oregon.

What is the cornea?

The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye. It is the main focusing element of the eye. Should the cornea become cloudy from disease, injury, or any other cause, vision will be dramatically reduced.

Who needs a cornea transplant?

People need transplants for many reasons. A transplant may be necessary because of cornea failure due to hereditary problems such as Fuchs’ dystrophy or Keratoconus, a steep curving of the cornea. It might also be required after scarring due to injury or infection.

What is a cornea transplant?

A cornea transplant is the surgical procedure that replaces a disc-shaped segment of an impaired cornea with a similarly shaped piece of healthy donor cornea.

Will the quality of medical treatment be affected if one is known to be a donor?

The number one priority in the healthcare setting is to save lives. Donation can only be considered after death and with the permission of your family members. In fact, prior to death, transplant physicians are not involved in your care.

Will the donor family pay or receive any fees for donation?

No. Any costs associated with eye donation are assumed by the eye bank. It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs, and tissues.

What does my place of worship think about donation?

Most major religions support donation and consider donation a great gift. Some religions leave the decision up to the individual without fear of going against its teachings.

Will the recipients be told who donated the corneas?

No. The gift of sight is made anonymously. Specific information about the donor or donor family is not available to the recipient. However, VisionGift does encourage recipients to write a letter of thanks to the donor family. We offer information on how to write a letter. We are here to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to call us at (503) 808-7070.

If I am an eye donor, can I still have an open casket funeral?

Yes. Great care is taken to preserve the appearance of the donor. Any funeral option is available to the family, including a viewing.

How does research and education benefit from eye donation?

Because many eye diseases and dysfunctions cannot be simulated in a laboratory environment, research into glaucoma, retinal diseases, complications of diabetes, and other sight disorders rely upon human eye donations. These studies advance the discovery of the causes and effects of these conditions, leading to new treatments and cures that impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Isn’t having a “D” code on my driver’s license or carrying a donor card enough to make me a donor?

While a “D” on your driver’s license is consent for donation, family awareness and support is still important. The only way to ensure your donation wishes will be fulfilled is by talking to your family about donation.