eye bank

eye bank, site for the collection, processing, and assignment of donated eyes. A donor's eyes are removed as soon as possible after death, sealed in a sterile container, and sent to the eye bank. There they are microscopically examined for corneal damage and then shipped to surgeons who have requested them. The intact eyes, if kept at a temperature of 4°C, may be preserved up to 48 hours. Subsequently, the corneas (the clear coverings of the eye) can be removed, preserved in glycerin, and stored at room temperature for six to eight months. Corneal transplants may restore vision to persons whose own corneas have become scarred through illness or injury. If free of bacteria, the vitreous humor, the fluid filling at the back of the eye, can be refrigerated and kept up to six months; it is used in the treatment of detached retina. The first eye bank in the United States, Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, Inc., was founded in New York City in 1945.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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