Eye Bank is eye opener for Lion’s Club and Texas Tech

Healthwise: Dr. David McCartney on importance of eye donations

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A portion of the proceeds from your breakfast at the Lions Club Pancake Festival this weekend will go to help fund the Great Plains Lions Eye Bank. That bank is supported by the Lion’s Club and affiliated with the Department of Ophthalmology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

The Eye Bank helps guide grieving families through the process of donating a cornea from a loved one who has died, to give sight to a child or adult who has lost that from disease, trauma, even a contact lens infection.

Dr. David McCartney, department chair at Texas Tech, says the biggest misconception about this transplant is how much is taken from the donor and how easy it is to donate that to anyone who needs it. He explains, “What we’re transplanting is the clear front lens, what you touch if you put your contact lens on the eye. The whole eye is about an inch wide. We are not transplanting the whole eye.”

Dr. McCartney says corneal transplants were done before any other transplants were done, mainly because there are normally no blood vessels. He adds, “So, we don’t have to type the tissue. So there’s no match process at all.”

Dr. McCartney says another misconception is that people wonder if a corneal transplant might change their eye color. He says “That’s easy to think because when you look in someone’s eye, you see the color where you think the cornea is but the color is actually two millimeters deeper in the eye.”

He says another common question is whether you can cross over and give a woman’s cornea to a man or vice versa. The answer is yes. He says the cornea does not know the difference between a man and a woman.

If you would like to learn more about becoming an eye donor, go to donatelifetexas.org.

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