Eye donation

Eye donation involves donating your corneas – not your iris.  Corneas are tiny pieces of tissue at the front of your eyes. You’ll never see them, but they make a massive difference to how you see the world. They let light into your eyes, enabling you to see.

Sight can fail for many different reasons meaning thousands of people every year need cornea transplants to help save or restore their sight. Imagine the heartache of not being able to see your loved ones clearly, and then having your sight restored thanks to the generosity of a stranger. It’s a truly incredible gift.

People can get squeamish thinking about donating their eyes after death – it’s the part of the body that people are least likely to agree to donate. However, patients have to wait longer for a cornea transplant because there’s a shortage of corneas available.

We want you to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to donate your corneas, and we hope the information below will help:

  • The eye is never transplanted whole
  • After donation, our specialist team will ensure the donor maintains a natural appearance 
  • People with poor eyesight can still donate their corneas - many conditions that affect a person’s eyesight do not affect the corneas directly, meaning it can still be possible to donate
  • You can donate your corneas up to 24 hours after you die and donation can take place after death in hospital, in hospices, or in funeral homes
  • People with most types of cancer can still donate their corneas - the corneas do not contain blood vessels, eliminating the risk of transmitting most types of cancer
  • Cornea donation does not delay any funeral arrangements, and our specialist nurses always speak to the family to see if there are considerations around someone’s faith, beliefs or culture in respect to funeral plans