Why & How

Your eye is a complex organ connected to your brain by the optic nerve. The optic nerve sends visual signals from the eye to the brain, where they are interpreted as images. The optic nerve is relatively small, varying in length between 1.3 and 2.2 inches, and at its widest point, inside your cranial cavity, it is still less than one-fifth of an inch wide.

Yet the optic nerve is made up of more than one million tiny nerve fibers, much like a fiber optic cable. Once these nerve fibers are cut, they cannot be reconnected. That is why it's impossible to transplant a whole eye. Even if a surgeon could implant the eye into the eye socket, the eye still would not be able to transmit signals to the brain through the optic nerve and thus would not provide sight.

You may have heard about someone having an "eye transplant," but what exactly does that mean? As it turns out, only one part of the eye can be transplanted. Medical science has no way to transplant whole eyes. When someone receives an "eye transplant," they are being given a donor cornea, the clear front part of the eye.

Corneal transplantation, also known as corneal grafting, is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced by donated corneal tissue (the graft) in its entirety (penetrating keratoplasty) or in part (lamellar keratoplasty). (Keratoplasty is surgery to the cornea.) The graft is taken from a recently deceased individual with no known diseases or other factors that may affect the viability of the donated tissue or the health of the recipient.

The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil and anterior chamber. The surgical procedure is performed by ophthalmologists, physicians who specialize in eyes, and is often done on an outpatient basis. Donors can be of any age, as is shown in the case of Janis Babson, who donated her eyes at age 10. The corneal transplantation is performed when medicines, keratoconus conservative surgery and cross-linking cannot heal the cornea anymore.

It is a surgical procedure whereby an impaired cornea of the patient is replaced by a healthy cornea from a donor for gaining the lost vision. Persons who are suffer from poor vision or loss of vision due mainly or partly to corneal disease or injury causing clouding, irregularity or scars of the cornea, can regain vision with transplant surgery. Only the cornea is used for transplant.

Tissue is retrieved either through enucleation (whole eye ball removal) or corneal excision. Presently many eye banks in the country retrieve only cornea by IN SITU CORNEAL EXCISION PROCEDURE. Corneas/ eyes should be removed within 6 hours of demise.

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