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    Eye banks create the cycle of giving

    Donated ocular tissue journeys from recovery to transplant


    Recovery of donated tissue

    As soon as the eye bank completes the screening and determines that the individual is a sutiable ocular donor, a trained eye bank technician is dispatched to the hospital, coroner’s office, or funeral home to procure the ocular tissue (Figure 3). The recovery must be completed within 24 hours of the individual’s death, or sooner, depending on certain research protocols.

    The technician is trained to recover corneas, whole eyes, or specific ocular tissues following medical standards designed to cause the least amount of damage to the tissue as well as to treat the donor with the utmost level of dignity. In addition to the ocular recovery, the technician will draw a blood sample for serological testing of infectious diseases.

    Related: Identifying malignant eyelid tumors

    Lab evaluation

    Ocular tissue is then brought back to the eye bank, allowing the tissue evaluation process to begin (Figure 4). Each tissue is rated using specific criteria established by the eye bank’s medical director. The endothelial cell density of each cornea is determined using a specular microscope. The health of the cells and cell morphology are also thoroughly evaluated by the eye bank technician during this process.

    Next, the ocular tissue is examined under a slit lamp looking for clarity, evidence of prior surgeries, trauma, foreign bodies, infections, dystrophies, and recovery damage to ensure the cornea is in the appropriate condition for transplant.

    Related: How techs should handle ocular emergencies

    Most eye banks also utilize optical coherence tomography (OCT) to measure corneal thickness to ensure the tissue is prepared to a surgeon’s specifications.

    The physical evaluation of the ocular tissue, donor medical and ocular history, and serologic testing results are reviewed as a whole in order to determine the suitability of the tissue for transplant. This final step is the eligibility determination, performed by an eye bank technician specifically knowledgeable in FDA, EBAA, and medical standards for one last review before a tissue is offered to a surgeon.

    Diane M. Hollingsworth
    Diane M. Hollingsworth has served as executive director of the Illinois Operations of Eversight since August 2010. Diane is an active ...


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