Eye bank

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Eye banks retrieve and store eyes for cornea transplants and research. US eye banks provide tissue for about 46,000 cornea transplants a year to treat conditions such as keratoconus and cornea scarring. The cornea is the only part of the eye that can currently undergo transplantation. In contrast to other organs, there is an adequate supply of corneas for transplants.

When an organ donor dies, certified eye bank technicians are dispatched to the hospital to collect the donor's eyes. The whole eye, called a globe, is enucleated from the donor and taken back to the eye bank for processing. A sample of the donor's blood is also collected to test for any pathogens. Back at the eye bank, the cornea and part of the white sclera are cut away from the rest of the eye and placed in a container with preservation medium. The corneas undergo visual examination underneath a slit-lamp and endothelial cell counts underneath a specular microscope.

There is a wide variety of storage media used in eye banking. The most popular is Optisol GS, which can preserve cornea tissue for up to 14 days if kept refrigerated. Eusol-C is another commonly used media. Organ culture media can also preserve corneas and does not require refrigeration.

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