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Human organ and tissue transplantation has become an important and growing part of modern medical practice. Advances in medical technology have resulted in millions of Americans receiving life-saving or life-enhancing gifts. To this end, an eye bank recovers, medically evaluates and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation, research and education.
Corneal Transplantation. Ophthalmologists perform tens of thousands of corneal transplants each year in the United States. Of all transplant surgery done today - including hearts, lungs, and kidneys - corneal transplants are by far the most common and successful.
Research. Because of the growing incidence of eye disease, there is a growing need for clinical, surgical and research expertise. Eye banks play a critical role in advancing therapeutics for the treatment of eye disease by providing medical schools and researchers with access to donor tissue both healthy and diseased. Eye tissue is also used for the development of treatments for other neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Training. Donor tissue is used for training doctors in the specialty of ophthalmology. An ophthalmologist is a physician (medical doctor) with additional specialized training, qualifications and skills in the diagnosis, medical and surgical management of disorders of the eye and visual system; in the prevention of blindness; in the promotion of eye health in individuals and in the community; and in the rehabilitation of patients with visual disability.
Oculoplastic. Sclera, the white of the eye, is used by ocular surgeons for reconstructive surgery when an eye has been lost.