LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Southern Eye Bank has declared November, eye donor month and they are working to break the misconception of cornea donation.
The cornea is the clear layer at the front of the eye, playing an important role in helping your eyes focus.
“When someone needs a cornea transplant, their vision is like looking out of smeared sunglasses," said Professional Outreach Coordinator for Southern Eye Bank, Joy Fragola. "Really dark, most of them cant work, they cant read they cant drive so their whole life is changed usually because of a corneal disease.”
Fragola says its more than giving a patient their eyesight back.
“Because that cornea protects your brain from viruses.”
Right now, Fragola says there’s no waiting list in Louisiana for people needing cornea transplants.
"Over 40,000 corneal transplants are done every year in the United States,” Fragola said.
If no one in the United States needs a cornea and someone who dies is a donor, they can be shipped to other countries.
“People don’t quite understand that giving someone their sight until after it happens really saves their life,” Fragola added.
Fragola says talking with your family to let them know you’d like to donate your cornea after you’re deceased, saying yes to organ donation at the DMV or registering online can ensure your corneas help someone in need.
People who die from cancer can be cornea donors even if their organs and tissue can’t be donated.