“For 563 million people, the world is a blur.”
The first successful corneal transplant, also known as keratoplasty, was performed in 1905 by Eduard Konrad Zirm, MD. This surgical procedure replaces part of the patient’s cornea with corneal tissue from a donor.
Over the next few decades surgical techniques continued to improve and in 1944, R. Townley Paton, a renowned American ophthalmologist established the world’s first eye bank, the Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, Inc., in New York, designing a plan for the attainment, preservation and distribution of eyes to corneal surgeons for transplantation. In 1977, the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) began to set standards for handling eye tissue and established a training program for technicians. The EBAA Medical Standards were officially adopted in 1980.
Since that time EBAA records show that “over 95 percent of all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.” In addition, by enabling people to resume employment and lead healthy lives, corneal transplants in the U.S. offer a total lifetime net benefit of nearly $6 billion.
In March, EBAA will commemorate National Eye Donor Month to promote awareness of the need to donate eyes, to recognize donors and their families and to celebrate corneal recipients. To learn more about corneal transplants or to register to become a donor, please visit www.restoresight.org.