Corneal transplants go beyond saving sight

The UT Southwestern Transplant Services Center helps restore sight to individuals in our community on a daily basis. Each year, the Transplant Services Center provides approximately 900 corneas for transplants that restore vision and alleviate pain caused by eye injury or disease. With a success rate greater than 95 percent, the one-hour procedure is one of the most common and least invasive transplant procedures available.

In the past decade, the Transplant Services Center, in association with local health care providers, has provided 8,000 corneas to men, women, and children for transplantation. “Eye donation provides the needed ocular tissues to restore or preserve sight and improve a patient’s overall quality of life, while at the same time providing comfort to donor families as they grieve the loss of a loved one,” said Donna Drury, Executive Director of the Transplant Services Center. “We are honored to work with donor families and local health care providers to facilitate the gift of sight for the benefit of our entire community.”

The growing trend of ocular tissue transplantation helps address the mounting costs of eye disorders. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports that eye disorders are the fifth-costliest ailment to the U.S. economy, after heart disease, cancer, emotional disorders, and pulmonary conditions.

A study by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) estimated that corneal transplants performed throughout the United States in 2013 will result in nearly $6 billion in total net benefits over the recipients’ lifetimes.

The study compared the medical cost of transplant procedures to the direct and indirect lifetime costs of the alternative – living with blindness or severe vision impairment. Corneal transplants eliminate the direct expenditures that come with vision loss, such as higher routine medical costs and long-term care costs, as well as the indirect costs of lost productivity for both the patients and their caregivers.

The Transplant Services Center estimates that this year alone, corneal transplants utilizing corneas recovered in the North Texas area by UT Southwestern will contribute upwards of $77 million to national net benefits.

To learn more about the UT Southwestern Transplant Services Center, please visit utsouthwestern.edu/education/medical-school/departments/transplant-services-center/index.html.

For a full copy of the report, please contact EBAA at info@restoresight.org