About the Eye Bank Association of America

The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) is the national association that represents 83 U.S. eye banks and 14 international banks. Since 1961, the EBAA has been dedicated to the restoration of sight through the promotion of eye banking by promulgating medical standards, accrediting eye banks, and certifying technicians. The EBAA also helps to promote collegial relationships among eye banks to assure an adequate supply of corneas for patients in the U.S. These relationships have introduced scheduled surgery for corneal transplants; to date, there has been no need for a registry to list the availability of corneas.

The EBAA was the first national transplant organization to establish medical standards (1980) and ethical codes of conduct. EBAA member banks voluntarily submit for inspection; following inspection, an EBAA Accreditation Board meets to review the observations and takes action to accredit or deny. Accreditation is awarded for up to three (3) years. The Association works closely with banks to provide resources for them to achieve the maximum 3-year status. In conjunction with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the EBAA urges all patients, surgeons and health care facilities to work solely with organizations that are EBAA accredited.

The Eye Bank Association of America:

  • Establishes state-of-the-art medical standards and procedures for those
    involved in eye banking.
  • Inspects and accredits eye banks according to EBAA medical standards
    and procedures.
  • Interacts with federal regulatory agencies to provide representation on behalf of the membership and to convey information to eye banks.
  • Provides public education services.
  • Administers comprehensive training programs and certification of training
    for eye bank professionals.
  • Awards scientific research grants for the furtherance of the science of
    sight.
  • Works to maintain a legislative and regulatory environment that promotes the best policy for the continuance of a successful eye banking community.
  • Affiliates with organizations committed to the advancement of sight.

The Need for Eye Banks

Eye banking represents the dawning of the transplant revolution. The first successful corneal transplant took place in 1906 and the first U.S. eye bank opened in 1944. Eye banks have an illustrious history and have been the stewards of the gift of sight throughout the world for over six decades. Eye banks are unique because they recover, evaluate, and distribute tissue for transplantation, research and education. They alone handle the precious gift of sight from donor to recipient, allowing a comprehensive (from beginning to end) oversight of the process. In 2011 alone, 46,196 corneas were transplanted in the United States. Additionally, 19,230 corneas were provided for research and 6,940 corneas were distributed for training purposes.

As there are marked differences in the medical, technical and practical aspects of organ, eye and tissue donation, the three categories of anatomical gifts have evolved as distinct specialty areas. Organ, eye and tissue donation differ significantly in their medical standards, federal regulatory requirements, timeliness of donor access, numbers of potential donors, costs structures and philanthropic community support.

Timeliness is another critical issue that distinguishes eye recovery from organs and tissues. Delicate corneal cells remain viable for only a short period following death. Unlike many tissues that can be stored for years, the cornea can only be preserved for a matter of days. Eye banks must attempt to gather all necessary medical data from multiple sources, interview the next of kin, and receive blood test results in as short a time as possible following the death of a donor.

For more information about eye donation, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.