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Richard G. Lembach, M.D., Eye Banking Education, Research
& Development Fund

Dr Lembach FundDonate to the Dr. Richard Lembach Fund

Donor eyes help glaucoma patients. The Lions Eye Bank has added to the many ways in which donated eyes can help improve the lives of others. We are now preparing a new type of graft that promotes healing after glaucoma filtering surgeries. These grafts provide a medically preferable approach to “patching” the area from which excess fluid is surgically drained.


Corneal Transplants

   The cornea is the clear front "window" of the eye.  The cornea focuses light on the retina, and works as a "pump" to keep vision clear. 

   Damage to a cornea interferes with its continuous action of pumping fluids to keep the front of the eye clear.  A damaged cornea will swell and become clouded, reducing or robbing the patient of sight.  Many corneal diseases worsen over time, until the only medical option is to replace the existing damaged cornea with a functioning cornea from an eye donor. Severe infections, and accidents such as puncturing injuries or acid burns on the cornea can also result in the need for a transplant.

 Corneal transplantation helps restore vision for patients whose corneas have been damaged through diseases, injuries, or infections.

Corneal Transplant Proceedure   "Traditional" cornea transplants replace the entire damaged cornea, as shown here, at right.

"Partial-thickness" transplantation (see photo, below) is a newer surgical technique that may be used to replace only damaged inner layers of the cornea. The procedure is useful for patients whose outer corneal layers are still healthy. The cornea is specially prepared, using an instrument called a microkeratome. The partial-thickness graft makes it possible to retain the patient's healthy cell layers and creates a stronger graft that does not require stitches. Patients whose corneal damage can be cured with this type of transplant regain their vision more rapidly.

     The Eye Bank recently rose to the challenge of preparing surgical corneas for a very exacting new transplant procedure, in which the surgeon extracts a single cell layer from a donor cornea and uses it to replace the same damaged cell layer in the patient. The Eye Bank uses two different approaches to prepare the corneas, involving the micro-injection of air into the delicate tissue to separate the layers pre-surgically. One method is done by hand, the other using the Eye Bank’s microkeratome to first cut the corneal cross-section. We are only the second eye bank in the nation to provide this service to qualified surgeons trained in this very focused transplant technique. Patients who are medically eligible to undergo these transplants should experience faster healing and return of vision than even results from the original partial-thickness transplants.


    The cornea being prepared for a partial-thickness transplant.


     After the transplant, the cornea is held in place with an air bubble, instead of stitches.