The Lions Eye Donation Service

Why become an eye donor?

By choosing to donate your eye tissue after you pass away, you can give someone the precious gift of sight – or help with important medical research. Here are a few things you should know.

A precious gift

You can choose to donate your eye or eye tissue after you pass away. If your donation is suitable, it can be used to help others – either through transplant operations or medical research.

The cornea and the sclera are the parts of the eye used for transplant operations. The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye and the sclera is the white of the eye that surrounds the cornea.

A corneal transplant involves replacing all or part of an impaired cornea with a healthy donor cornea, restoring the person’s sight. Scleral tissue is used for patch grafts, surgical reconstruction and operations to treat glaucoma.

Donated corneas that are not suitable for transplant may be used for medical research and education, if specific consent is given for these purposes.

Frequently asked questions

Learn more about how the eye donation process works.

Who can donate?

The good news is that almost everyone can donate their eyes or corneas after their death.

Eye donors can have any eye colour, blood type or level of eyesight. Donor age is not as important as it is for other organs or tissues – most eye donors are in their 70s.

There a few conditions, such as HIV and hepatitis, that prevent eye donation. But most causes of death do not impact the ability to donate.

Corneal transplants

Corneal transplants can help restore vision in people who have a damaged cornea. Damage can happen through infection, injury or diseases like keratoconus.

This sight-saving procedure is only possible if there is a donated cornea to transplant.

In Australia, around 2500 corneal transplants are performed each year. Over 530 of these are from donated corneas supplied by the Lions Eye Donation Service.

Except for blood transfusion, corneal transplants are the oldest and most common form of human transplantation.

Learn more about corneal transplants

A guide to corneal transplant surgery, from preparation to recovery.

Helping with medical research

You may choose to donate your eyes or eye tissue to medical research. Your donation can help researchers at CERA and other research institutes to better understand eye diseases. This can lead to new treatments and cures.

CERA’s research areas include glaucoma, inherited retinal disease and diabetes eye complications.

Learn more about CERA’s research

CERA is an international leader in eye research, working to achieve better treatments for eye disease.

Become an eye donor

Choosing to donate your eye tissue after you pass away is a personal decision. If you would like to become an eye donor, there are a few steps you need to take to record your wishes.

Register to become an eye donor

It only takes a few minutes online to record your intentions with the Australian Organ Donor Registry.

You can contact the Lions Eye Donation Service 24 hours a day by calling the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital on (03) 9929 8666. Or, you can email us.