About Eye Donation

The Lowy Medical Research Institute has established an Eye Donation Program for people with MacTel who have died. Eye donation is critical to LMRI’s mission as it provides an invaluable opportunity for scientists to study MacTel eyes at the cellular level. Access to eye tissue from deceased MacTel patients is absolutely critical to better understand the disease and to develop new therapies.

The tissue that comes in through the Eye Donation program is very special because of the participants’ history with the MacTel Project.  The MacTel Project has archived pictures of participants’ retinas, medical information, and results of vision tests. Scientists can match up what they see at the cellular level in donated tissue with the participant’s archived medical information. Correlating observations made by looking at the tissue under the microscope with the retinal pictures has been especially informative.

The retina is a complex organ. It is made up of many different cell types that are intricately interconnected. The only way to study how MacTel affects this network of cells responsible for vision is to examine retinas that were affected by MacTel. The LMRI Eye Donation Program makes this possible.

How to Donate

Eye tissue donated for medical research is a precious gift. If you are considering participating in the Eye Donation Program, please discuss your wishes with your loved ones. Information about the program can be found in The MacTel Project’s Eye Donation Brochure.

If you have decided to be an Eye Donor, speak with your ophthalmologist or MacTel Project coordinator. They will provide you with a MacTel Eye Donation Wallet Card. The card should be stored in your wallet, near your photo ID. They will also provide you with information about the closest Eye Bank.

You may wish to notify the local Eye Bank of your intentions.

Timing is extremely important, when it comes to organ donation. Donated retinal tissue needs to be preserved appropriately, and this should happen as soon as possible after death. It is important that you and your loved ones have a plan in place for eye donation, so that the opportunity to donate for MacTel research is not missed.

In the case of an impending death, such as with a terminal illness, your local Eye Bank should be notified to expect to receive a donation for MacTel research. With an unexpected death, a physician should be instructed that the eyes are to be donated to MacTel research.

The Eye Bank can refer to The Lowy Medical Research Institute’s instructions for retrieval. The Eye Bank will ensure that the tissue is delivered to LMRI for research.

Thank you in advance for this tremendous gift.

Instructions For Retrieval

These instructions are for physicians and eye banks.

Should post-mortem donor eye tissue from a MacTel type 2 patient become available, please download the instructions on this page and follow them to ensure the eyes can be used for research. In the attached document, you will find instructions on how to retrieve the eye, appropriately fix it, and shipping details.

The instructions also include contact information for individuals affiliated with the Lowy Medical Research Institute who are qualified to assist with questions or problems.