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The Illinois Eye-Bank is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of sight through transplantation, research, education and partnership.
The Mission of the Illinois Eye-Bank is accomplished through:
- Recovery, evaluation and distribution of the highest quality eye tissue for transplantation, as well as for ophthalmic research and training.
- Funding of peer-reviewed research grants in support of improved diagnosis, treatment and prevention of eye and vision disorders.
- Provision of public and professional education to increase awareness of the continuing need for donation of eye tissue, as well as all other tissues and organs.
- Supporting the continued development of eye banking, domestically and internationally, and the continuing development of related professional disciplines.
The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped front covering of the eye, and corneal blindness occurs when certain types of disease, infection, trauma or injury affect the tissue. While the cornea can heal from minor scratches and irritations, there are times when it is unable to naturally repair itself and a transplant becomes necessary.
Luckily, whenever an individual needs a cornea transplant the Illinois Eye-Bank is able to supply the tissue necessary for these sight-restoring surgeries. The eye bank works with surgeons throughout the state to meet their patients’ needs 100% of the time. In fact, surgeons are now able to schedule their transplants weeks in advance, and the organization is always able to provide the required tissue. As a result of these efforts, in 2013 the Illinois Eye-Bank helped facilitate 1,320 corneal transplants in Illinois, 2,871 total transplants in the U.S. and abroad and provided another 1,459 tissues for research.
The eye bank’s work is never over, and the organization operates three main programs to fulfill its mission.
The Gift of Sight: People living with blinding eye conditions sometimes face challenges in receiving the care they need because they lack adequate health insurance. In an effort to help these individuals, the Illinois Eye-Bank created the Gift of Sight program to reduce or eliminate the costs associated with sight-restoring corneal transplants.
The Gift of Hope: The Illinois Eye-Bank has helped restore sight to thousands of people, but there are many individuals whose vision problems cannot be cured through transplantation. Vision research initiatives, supported by the eye bank through grant funding and the provision of donor eye tissue, bring new ideas to light for the treatment and prevention of blinding eye diseases.
The Gift of Knowledge: The eye bank’s commitment to the restoration of sight also extends to public and professional education. The Gift of Knowledge program strives to inform the community about the ongoing need for eye, organ and tissue donors, and the importance of joining the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry. In addition, the organization’s professional relations staff works closely with hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, medical examiners, coroners and corneal surgeons to ensure that the donation and transplantation process is effective in serving those in need.
These programs, and the work of the Illinois Eye-Bank, would not be possible without the continued efforts and support of the Chicago community. Thanks to the generosity of those who join the donor registry, to the volunteers who spread awareness about the organization, to the surgeons who perform corneal transplants and to the dedicated eye bank staff, the Illinois Eye-Bank will continue to reach even more individuals who so desperately need the gift of sight.
For more information about the Illinois Eye-Bank, or to find out how you can make a contribution or get involved, contact Brittany Wright, Community Relations Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (312) 469-5516. Find the Illinois Eye-Bank online at www.illinoiseyebank.org.
- Brittany Wright
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