If you’ve ever marveled at a gorgeous sunset or enjoyed a breathtaking view of a mountain range, you know how much of a privilege it is to have healthy eyesight. Sadly, thousands of people suffer from debilitating eye conditions that prevent them from experiencing these visual treats, and in many cases, they’re not even able to enjoy the most basic benefits of normal eye function. Fortunately, corneal transplantation can provide hope and renewed vision for people who suffer from various corneal disorders, such as scarring or disease. Without willing donors, however, these life-changing procedures simply can’t take place.
When you register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, you’re making it possible for someone in the future to receive the gift of sight through corneal transplantation. Some of the most common corneal diseases that might necessitate transplants include:
- Keratoconus: This is a condition in which the cornea becomes progressively thinner over time, producing an abnormal curvature that alters the cornea’s refractive properties. As a result, the eye begins to produce distorted or blurred images, resulting in astigmatism and/or nearsightedness. Roughly one in every 2,000 Americans are affected by this condition.
- Lattice Dystrophy: This condition occurs when abnormal protein deposits begin to accumulate in the lattice-like fibers of the stroma, which is the delicate membrane that makes up about 90% of the cornea’s thickness. These protein deposits become more opaque over time, producing a cloudiness that can impair vision.
- Fuchs’ Dystrophy: This condition occurs when the inner layer of cells in the cornea begins to gradually deteriorate, producing excess moisture in the stroma. Eventually, the cornea will begin to swell, producing painful discomfort and visual impairment.
- Iridocorneal Endothelial (ICE) Syndrome: This is a condition in which cells begin to move off the cornea and onto the iris, producing corneal swelling as well as distortion of the iris and/or pupil. The movement of these cells can also plug the tiny holes that allow fluid to drain from the eye, producing glaucoma.
Through the miracle of modern medicine, any one of the above eye conditions can be remedied by corneal transplantation via willing organ donors. Although artificial corneas have been introduced into the medical arena they’re extremely difficult to work with, and their overall effectiveness is still being evaluated. Simply put, there is no substitute for real human tissue – it’s the most useful and effective means to restore vision for people who suffer from the types of corneal diseases listed above.
One of the best things about corneal transplantation is that it’s a very accommodating procedure. You don’t have to have the same blood type as the recipient, nor does your eye color or eyesight level have to match. Age is not a factor, either.
If you haven’t yet registered to be an organ, eye or tissue donor, consider taking that step today. You never know how much of an impact your decision could make in the lives of people who would love to have their vision restored. Your decision to become a donor can provide the priceless gift of sight to someone who would otherwise not be able to enjoy such an awesome privilege, and you will create a legacy of giving that will truly live on for many years to come.