Number of corneas provided for transplant in 2015 in the U.S.
U.S. donors of ocular tissue in 2015
Success rate of cornea transplants
Number of Americans who regain vision each year due to corneal transplant


Each year, over 40,000 Americans have their vision restored after undergoing a corneal transplant. Two corneas can help two people see again or maybe even for the first time. The sclera, or the white of the eye, can be used to help up to eight individuals.

  • One organ donor can save the lives of up to 8 patients awaiting transplant.
  • Tissue donation can enhance the lives of more than 50.

Anyone can become a donor by indicating your wish on our statewide donor registry, DonateLifeVirginia.org, or by designating your decision on your Virginia driver’s license.


There is no conflict between saving a patient’s life and using their eye tissue for transplantation. Very strict laws protect patients who may be candidates for donation of any type. Legal guidelines are in place that must be followed before a patient is declared dead, and before their tissues and organs can be recovered.
There is no apparent disfigurement once the cornea or whole eye is removed. The eyelids remain closed and there is no disfigurement that would interfere with an open-casket funeral service. Eye donation does not interfere with or delay any funeral arrangements the family chooses.
There is no cost to the family for donation.
Eye donation gives sight to others. As a gift to another human being, donation is consistent with all religious beliefs, attitudes and ethical standards that support action to benefit others.
Many individuals with a history of cancer may donate their eyes for research. In many cases, the tissue can be used for transplant.
Poor vision due to previous surgeries or long-term eye diseases does not preclude eye donation. Research programs study the effects of other blinding diseases such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic-related eye disorders. If you wear eyeglasses or corrective lenses due to near or farsightedness, the eye tissue is still used for transplant.
Diabetics may donate their eye tissue. In most cases, the tissue is used for transplants. Whole eyes can also be used for research.
Anyone may donate their eyes regardless of their age. Transplantable tissue is accepted from age one to 75, with exceptions in some cases.
Eye donation is a completely confidential gift. Neither the donor family nor the recipient knows the identity of the other, unless both request to exchange this information.

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