Michigan State University Study Suggests Improving Eye Donation Education Can Improve Research

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EAST LANSING, Mich.—A recent study from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, published in the journal Current Eye Research, has determined that making eye donation easier could help advance eye health and eye disease related research. The study states that although many people are willing to donate their eyes to research, they are often not aware of how to do so.

According to the study, led by third-year student Andrew Williams, 90 percent of the 200 patients surveyed, who all had eye disease, were willing to donate their eyes for research after they died. However, the study said, eye donations for research fell 28 percent between 1997 and 2004, and among those not registered to donate, 77 percent gave “non-prohibitive” reasons such as never being asked to donate or believing their eyes were too diseased.
Further, those who do opt to donate their eyes may neglect to specifically designate them for research.

The study also stated that 41 percent of patients would prefer learning about eye donation from their doctor, while 37 percent would prefer learning from a pamphlet; further, patients reported they were more likely to consider donating their eyes if they had strong trust in their eye doctor.

“A lot of people aren’t aware they can donate their eyes to research. They don’t really know how to get the process started,” said Williams. “It comes down to a lack of education.”
Among Williams’ suggestions to facilitate eye donation for research are that states provide more information on the process. He also emphasized the role of eye doctors in the process, suggesting they flag patients who are interested in donation, as well as provide pamphlets on the topic in their waiting rooms.

“Eye donation has restored sight to thousands of patients,” Williams said. “If we were able to streamline the process, researchers could work much more efficiently.”

For the full MSU report, visit msu.edu. More information on eye donation is available from the Eye Bank Association of America.