Processing eye tissue

The cornea

The cornea is the clear, outermost layer of the eye. A corneal transplant is a surgical procedure where the damaged cornea is replaced by the healthy cornea from a deceased donor.

A corneal transplant can help you by restoring vision, reducing pain and improving the appearance of a damaged or diseased cornea. The Eye Bank evaluates all tissue for corneal transplantation to ensure suitability for surgery. The tissue is tested for infectious diseases following practices outlined by Health Canada’s regulations on tissue donation as well as standards set out by the Eye Bank Association of America.


Preparing donor tissue for corneal transplant

Eye tissue received by the Eye Bank is processed based on the needs of each patient awaiting a transplant. A patient’s surgeon will make a request to the Eye Bank, specifying the type of tissue needed depending on the surgery. Technicians at the Eye Bank prepare corneal tissues for surgeons performing surgery. The surgeons will then cut the tissue and use for any of the four different types of surgical procedures listed below:

  • Penetrating Keratoplasty (PKP): Replacement of all five layers of the cornea
  • Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty (DALK): Replacement of only the top three layers of the cornea (Epithelium, Bowman’s Layer and Stroma).
  • Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK): Replacement of only the inner three layers of tissue (Stroma, Descemet’s Membrane and Endothelium)
  • Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK): Replacement of a very thin inner layer of tissue – the Descemet’s Membrane and Endothelium


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