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.