Today, Apple announced that iPhone users can sign up to be organ, eye and tissue donors through the Health app. According to the press release, “through a simple sign up process, iPhone users can learn more and take action with just a few taps. All registrations submitted from iPhone are sent directly to the National Donate Life Registry managed by Donate Life America. The ability to quickly and easily become a nationally-registered donor enables people to carry their decision with them wherever they go.”
By donating eyes and/or corneal tissues, you might give the gift of sight to someone suffering from corneal blindness. In fact, you might help two people see, says The San Diego Eye Bank.
Additionally, eye donation can help find cures for blindness by aiding researchers as they work to create more effective treatments and technological breakthroughs. What’s more, you can sign up to be an eye donor even if you don’t have perfect eyesight or you have other health conditions (cancer, diabetes, etc) that might affect your eyes.
The donation is transferred in a procedure called corneal transplant surgery. Many incidents of blindness occur when the cornea becomes cloudy preventing light from entering the eye and resulting in vision loss or total blindness. Thousands of people each year suffer from corneal blindness. For vision loss or total blindness that occurs as a result of corneal injury or disease, corneal transplant surgery is the cure. During the procedure, the damaged or diseased cornea is surgically replaced with a donor cornea.
It’s important to note that not all blindness is cornea related. For example, corneal transplantation would not necessarily help a patient with macular degeneration because that’s a disease of the retina, which is a thin tissue on the inside of the eye. That is, unless the cornea is also affected in some way along with the macular degeneration.
Similarly, in people with glaucoma, which is an eye condition that’s characterized by too-high pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve, the cornea is not directly affected. But some patients might have both glaucoma and a corneal condition, and therefore might require both a surgery for the glaucoma and another surgery for the cornea.
It’s important to note, however, that glaucoma can negatively interfere with corneal transplant, so the condition must be controlled before or at the time of the corneal transplant.