Meeting a Global Need
In many regions of the world, corneal blindness is a health problem of epidemic proportions. According to the World Health Organization, nearly ten million people around the world live every day in darkness, suffering from corneal blindness. Millions more struggle with visual impairment caused by corneal conditions.
Eye and tissue banking systems do not exist in many parts of the world. While tissue transplants can be conducted with relatively little waiting period in the U.S., people in medically underserved countries may wait a lifetime for tissue to be available. TBI’s international programs help meet this vast need.
TBI’s International Federation of Eye & Tissue Banks
TBI’s International Federation of Eye & Tissue Banks (IFETB) is a membership network of eye and tissue banks in more than 20 countries. IFETB’s mission is assist individuals, groups, and governments in developing national eye and tissue banking programs that service their citizenries and help increase the quality of life for their people and the people of the world.
Operation Eye Rescue
Operation Eye Rescue provides corneas for transplant at no cost to the recipient. TBI identifies surgeons and clinics that are willing to waive operating fees and generous benefactors help TBI underwrite the cost of the corneal tissue.
Through Operation Eye Rescue, people in desperate need of sight-saving surgery – people who otherwise would have no hope of emerging from blindness – have their sight restored.
International Tissue Distribution
TBI provides corneas at reduced fees to many areas of the world. Some of these corneas were recovered in the U.S. but cannot be used locally (corneas from U.S. donors are never sent overseas without permission from the donor family). Others come from accredited members of IFETB. All of these corneas are placed in areas where there are not enough corneas to meet the needs of people waiting in blindness.
TBI’s International Centers of Excellence
The International Eye Bank of Prague was among the first international eye banks to offer pre-cut capabilities for lamellar corneal transplant. The eye bank now provides surgeons throughout the region with corneas for DSAEK or ALK, pre-cut with a microkeratome to surgeon specifications.