Becoming A Cornea Donor: What Is Eye And Tissue Donation?

Close up image of a person with brown eyesThe decision to become an organ, tissue and/or eye donor is a generous, life-giving decision. More than 115,000 men, women and children in the U.S. are in need of a lifesaving organ transplant. Countless others are in need of tissue donation, which may improve quality of life.

The great need for organ and tissue donors exists partly due to a lack of education about donation or how to become a donor. According to Donate Life America, 98 percent of all adults have heard of organ donation, whereas only 86 percent have heard of tissue donation.

Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age, race or medical history. The decision to donate your organs or tissue when you die is a decision that could potentially save the life or improve the quality of life for another individual.

Organ donation vs. tissue donation

Tissue such as skin, bone and heart valves can be donated and transplanted. The gift of a tissue donation can dramatically improve quality of life for the recipient.

Organ donation is the giving of a whole or part of an organ for transplantation into another individual. Organ donation typically occurs posthumously, though it is possible for a living donation to be made in some cases, such as for kidney transplant. In 2011, deceased and living organ donors made 28,535 organ transplants possible. (Source:

Corneal donation is necessary for the preservation and restoration of sight. Some patients after an injury or because of a congenital defect, only have a chance for clear sight with a corneal transplant. The cornea is the clear, outermost layer of the eye that allows light to pass through the retina, enabling vision. Last year, more than 42,000 grafts were made available for transplant by eye banks within the U.S. (Source:

Common myths about organ and tissue donation

Myth: I’m too old to donate.

Fact: There is no cutoff age for organ donation. Likewise, tissue, including eye tissue, can be donated at any age, though past a certain age, your tissue may be used for research rather than transplant. Donation for research is still a very generous, and potentially life-saving gift. The donation of your eye tissue for research can help advance the understanding and treatment of many eye diseases.

Myth: Organ and tissue donation is against my religion.

Fact: The decision to donate your organs and/or tissue is a personal decision and is consistent with the beliefs of most religions, including Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. If you are unsure of your religion’s specific views on organ and tissue donation, as a member of your clergy or visit for more information.

Statistics show that 90 percent of all Americans support organ, tissue and eye donation, but only 30 percent know how to become a donor. For more information on becoming an organ, tissue or eye donor and to learn the facts about donation, visit