Eye Banking and Corneal Transplantation

 

The new frontier for eye banking and corneal transplantation in the developing world is to increase the availability of a safe tissue supply for corneal transplantation for all levels of society. Corneal blindness in the developing world has a tremendous impact both on the quality of people's lives and related economic issues.

Corneal disease affects over 10 million people in the developing world. The causes are related to trachoma, leprosy, trauma, ulcerations and complications related to the use of traditional medicines. World Health Organization research indicates that with an increase in non-communicable disease causes of blindness, the impact that blindness will have on society will increase dramatically over the next 20 years. Corneal transplantation and eye banking play an important role in the reduction of this form of blindness.

Corneal transplantation is often performed on younger persons resulting in significantly greater economic benefits than those associated with cataract surgery.

Eyesight International and its members have been involved with eye banking and corneal transplantation since 1990. They have worked with the Eye Bank Association of India since that organization's inception in 1990. Eyesight International members have provided a pivotal role in the development of medical standards and accreditation programs tailored to India's culture and environment. As well, Eyesight International members have presented annual educational programs since 1990 to educate doctors, health care professionals and eye bank technicians in all aspects of corneal transplantation and eye banking.

In 1990, approximately 700 successful transplants were performed nationally in India. The frequency of severe complications was approximately 50%. With Eyesight International's assistance, approximately 9,000 successful corneal transplants were performed in 2000, with a dramatic decrease in the incidence of complications.

Many opportunities exist for the development of eye banking and corneal transplantation programs in the developing world. The reduction of blindness through corneal transplantation is one of Eyesight International's primary mandates.