By now National Eye Donor Month is coming to a close, but at Cornea Associates we believe in espousing the importance and value of cornea donation every day. We’ve talked about the great work that the UTSW Eye and Tissue Bank and their Transplant Services Center to incredible work providing corneas and other tissue to DFW, but the Eye Bank Association of America is also worthy of note because they provide corneas (and other ocular tissue) nationwide in a network that includes the UTSW Eye and Tissue Bank.
Last year, we wrote about the EBAA and highlighted some statistics about corneal disease/dystrophies that warrant transplantations, donation, and the processes and protocol for eye tissue recovery, storage, and distribution. On a more personal note, we’ve decided this National Eye Donor Month to share a couple stories that came to us by way of the UTSW Transplant Services Center and the EBBA through UTSW TSC director, Donna Drury.
Coincidence would have it that both the recipients we’re featuring had cornea transplants that were performed by our own Dr. Brad Bowman!
Zoe, an adorable 6 month old, required a corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty, or PKP) in one eye after being born with Peter’s anomaly, which is a rare congenital form of anterior segment dysgenesis that’s characterized by central corneal opacities; these patients are typically born with corneas too “cloudy” to see through. Dr. Bowman, one of whom’s medical niches is pediatric corneal transplants, works with Cook Children’s Hospital and their Alexander Vision Center, to examine, treat, and operate on children with eye issues like these.
Recently Zoe (above, before then after PKP), and mom Nia, attended UTSW Eye and Tissue Bank’s annual Funeral Home and Chaplain Seminar as special guests to speak on, and raise awareness for, cornea donation to help funeral directors and chaplains better guide families during end of life care and illustrate the real impact of cornea donation. Mom shared their story with the group while little Zoe charmed a captive audience.
While Dr. Bowman does treat a lot of children at Cornea Associates, another little-known condition we see daily as corneal subspecialists is keratocous; a condition in which the cornea is especially thin or weak and, over time, begins to progressively steepen causing high myopia and/or irregular astigmatism in most cases. Cornea Associates is one of the limited number of practices in the US that is enrolled in a national study that allows us to perform corneal collagen cross-linking on qualified patients with keratoconus, corneal ectasia, or pellucid marginal degeneration. Unfortunately, corneal transplants are sometimes still necessary for patients, as was the case for another of Dr. Bowman’s patients, Terry Robinson.
After suffering from declining vision due to keratoconus, Mr. Robinson eventually underwent a corneal transplant in 2009 with Dr. Bowman. Mr. Robinson had been an avid outdoorsman and talented photographer before keratoconus began significantly affecting his vision, and by extension, his photographs. Eight years later, Mr. Robinson’s graft is still clear and stable, and so are his photos! Mr. Robinson was actually the winner of the Eye Bank Association of America’s annual “Through My Eyes” contest for 2017. His photographs of a Colorado landscape were selected as top prize in a contest celebrating artists that are also cornea transplant recipients.
It should come as no surprize that we are avid supporters of donation registration here at Cornea Associates, and we highly encourage all to register. For more information, or to register, check out the resources at restoresight.org or locally at donatelifetexas.org. Celebrate and raise awareness for cornea donation by using the hashtags #NationalEyeDonorMonth, #NEDM2017, and #DonateLife.