-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Many people are willing to
donate their eyes to research, but don't know how, a new study
Demand for eye tissue is high, but the number of eyes donated
for research fell 28 percent between 1997 and 2004, said study
leader Andrew Williams, a third-year student at the College of
Human Medicine at Michigan State University.
"A lot of people aren't aware they can donate their eyes to research," Williams said in a university news release. "They don't really know how to get the process started. It comes down to a lack of education."
The researchers surveyed about 200 patients with eye diseases
and found that 90 percent were willing to donate their eyes for
research after they died, according to the study recently published
in the journal
Current Eye Research.
Among the survey participants who were not registered to donate,
nearly eight out of 10 gave what the researchers called
"non-prohibitive" reasons. These include never being asked to
donate, or believing that their eyes were too diseased to donate,
even though diseased eyes are actually useful for research.
The rules vary for becoming an eye donor depending on where a
person lives. In some states it is different than being an organ
donor and people may not realize they have to check a box
specifically for eye donation. And even those who have offered to
donate their eyes may neglect to designate them specifically for
"The donation process is too complex. It could be structured better to facilitate donations," Williams noted in the news release.
He suggested that states could simplify eye donation by
providing patients who express interest with more information about
the process. While many doctors are hesitant to ask patients to
donate eyes, placing pamphlets about eye donation in the waiting
room may help, Williams added.
The study found that 41 percent of patients preferred learning
about eye donation from their doctor and 37 percent would rather
learn from a pamphlet. Patients also said they were more likely to
consider donating their eyes if they had strong trust in their eye
The Eye Bank Association of America has more about
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