2701 Kingman Street
STE 200
Metairie, Louisiana 70006

Phone (504) 891-3937
Fax (504) 891-2401

An Organization for United Sight

A Proud Member of the Donate Life Louisiana Collaberation


What is the cornea?
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface at the front of the eye. It is the main focusing mechanism of the eye.

What is corneal blindness?
Corneal blindness is a visual impairment that is caused when the cornea becomes clouded, scarred, or misshapen. This condition may be the result of injury, infection or disease.

What is the corneal transplant?
The transplant is a surgical procedure which replaces a diseased or non-functional cornea with a new, healthy donor cornea.

Is the whole eye transplanted?
No, only the cornea is transplanted; however sections of sclera (the white, fibrous shell of the eye), can be used to mend punctured eyes or be used for other surgical purposes.

How common is the corneal transplant?
The corneal transplant is the most frequently performed human transplant procedures performed. Since 1960, more than 500,000 corneal transplants have been performed, restoring sight to men women and children ranging in age from one day to 103 years.

How successful is the corneal transplant?
Approximately 94% off all corneal transplant operations successfully restore the corneal recipient’s vision.

Why should someone want to donate their eyes?
There is no substitute for human tissue. The transplantation process depends upon the priceless gift of corneal donation. Eyes are needed for transplantation as well as for research and education. Without corneal donors, those in need would not receive the gift of sight.

Who can be an eye donor?
Anyone can be an eye donor. Cataracts, poor eye sight, and other similar conditions would not prohibit you from being an eye donor. It is important for individuals wanting to be donors to inform their family members of their wishes.

If a person has signed a donor card or a driver’s license, how can they be sure that their wishes regarding donation will be carried out?
Tell your family you want to be an eye donor. Next of kin consent is required for donation, so it is helpful if your family knows ahead of time how you feel about it.

How great is the need for corneas?
Although more than 44,000 corneal transplants were performed in North America last year, the need for corneal tissue is never satisfied.

Will the quality of medical treatment be affected if one is a donor?
Strict laws protect the potential donor. The attending physician involved would not be involved with the donation process. It is only after the donor’s death will the family be asked to donate their loved ones eyes.

Will the family of the donor know who received their loved ones corneas?
The gift of sight is made anonymously. Identifying information about the donor or donor’s family is not available to the recipient. If the donor’s family or recipient wishes to send correspondence, the eye bank will convey the messages with permission from the receiving party.

Are there religious objections to eye donation?
No. Donation is an opportunity to help save a life or restore someone’s sight. As such, eye, organ and tissue donation is consistent with the beliefs of all major religions. For a list of the world’s major religious beliefs on donation, please click here. 

Is there a fee associated with eye donation?
It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs, and tissues. Any costs associated with procurement are absorbed by the organization which retrieves the tissue.

Is there any delay in funeral arrangements?
Eye procurement is performed within hours of death, so families may proceed with funeral arrangements without delay or interruption.

Why are the families of potential donors asked so quickly if they would like to donate? Can’t the question be asked at a later time?
We, at Southern Eye Bank, understand that losing a loved one is a most stressful and sorrowful time; however to ensure that healthy cells in the cornea remain viable; the recovery must take place as soon as possible. The time limit for recovery of just a few hours is recommended. Most families are also comforted in knowing that out of something so tragic, a wonderful and selfless act may result.

Will eye donation affect the appearance of the donor?
Great care is taken to preserve the appearance of the donor. Funeral arrangements, including a viewing (open casket) may proceed as scheduled.

What happens if the corneas are not suitable for transplant?
After recovery, corneal tissue is carefully evaluated at Southern Eye Bank’s laboratory. Corneas determined to be unsuitable for transplant may be used for research and teaching.

How do researchers use donated eyes?
Donated eyes are vital to the work of researchers studying the causes and treatment of eye disease such as glaucoma, retinal disease, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease. This research will eventually lead to the discovery of ways to prevent and cure these devastating and debilitating diseases.

What is an eye bank?
An eye bank recovers, evaluates and distributes eyes donated for corneal transplant, research, and education. Currently, there are 88 eye banks in the United States. Southern Eye Bank is the 4th oldest eye bank and was the only one in the South until 1953. Southern Eye Bank is a fully accredited member of the Eye Bank Association of America.

How does the eye bank ensure safe corneal tissue for transplantation?
The donated eyes and the donor’s medical history are carefully evaluated by the eye bank. With the recipient’s safety in mind, only corneas that have met strict evaluation guidelines set forth by Southern Eye Bank are distributed.

I have/had cancer, can I still donate my eyes?
There are certain cancers that do not affect your decision to be an eye donor such as brain, breast, bone and cancers affecting other organs. Lymphomas and leukemias do, however, limit your ability to donate your eyes with the intention of transplantation only. Researchers and educators often use this ocular tissue for the purpose of helping others with these diseases and the associated ocular problems. If you have or had cancer, please discuss your wish to donate either for education or transplant with your family.

I belong to a civic group that is interested in your cause, how can we help?
Southern Eye Bank has a development department to assist you in your needs. Organizations that are interested in speakers should email our development/education department to schedule a speaker. Donated eye glasses are also collected to help others less fortunate see their world a little clearer. Monetary contributions are very much appreciated. Our non-profit organization relies on public support to continue our work. For tax-identification numbers, please contact our development department or call our office for more information. Monetary and other contributions are fully deductible according to IRS guidelines and standards.