What is an eye bank?

What is an eye bank?

Eye banks restore sight and change lives in their local communities and around the world by facilitating donation and providing ocular tissue for transplant, research and education.

An eye bank is a non-profit organization that obtains, medically evaluates and distributes ocular tissue for transplant, research, and education. On average, U.S. eye banks provide tissue for over 85,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants each year.

EBAA Member eye banks serve all 50 U.S. states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and locations around the world. Eye banks can be eye only, eye and tissue, or part of an organ procurement organization, and they vary in the functions that are performed including: recovery, storage, tissue evaluation, donor eligibility determination, processing and distribution. In addition to the core functions, many eye banks conduct or provide tissue for innovative research to advance eye banking and sight restoration.

The EBAA Medical Standards, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, are the foundation for eye bank procedures, ensuring that all tissue is recovered, processed, and distributed in adherence to approved medical processes and resulting in healthy high quality tissue for the recipient. The majority of EBAA Member eye banks are EBAA Accredited which means that their processes and facilities have undergone thorough inspection by peer eye bank professionals and corneal surgeons and meet industry standards and regulations.

Eye Bank Structures

Eye banking organizations vary in structure and functions, but typically fall into these categories:

  • Eye Bank Only Functions
  • Tissue and Eye Bank Functions
  • Recovery Centers
  • Processing Centers
  • Distribution Centers
  • Multicenter Eye Banks

Departments

An eye bank typically consists of the departments outlined below.

Donor Eligibility
Review potential donors’ medical history to verify if the donor is eligible to donate.

Recovery
Procure ocular tissue from deceased donors who have been cleared for donation through first person authorization, or consent from the next of kin.

Evaluation
Evaluate tissue using slit lamp and specular microscopes, as well as other equipment to assess the health and quality of the tissue.

Processing
Perform procedures to prepare the tissue for transplant, this can include testing for microorganisms, preparing the tissue, manipulating or resizing the tissue based on the surgical procedure it is intended, sterilizing the tissue, or removing adventitious agents.

Distribution
Work with surgical centers, hospitals, and practices, to fulfill requests for tissue. Package and ship tissue for transplant and research.

Quality Assurance
Develop, implement, and monitor quality systems and quality assurance as it relates to regulatory compliance, departmental, and organizational strategic goals and processes.

Finance
Manage the finances for the eye bank including processing reimbursement for costs associated with procuring and preparing the ocular tissue.

Hospital Development/ Partner Relations/ Community Outreach
Build and strengthen relationships with the local community, hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, medical  examiner/ coroner offices and other third-party organizations.

Family Services
Provide information and resources to donor family members and cornea recipients.

Find an Eye Bank

Visit the Find an Eye Bank page to find a local eye bank or to check the Accreditation Status of an eye bank.