Virtual Library | Corneal Transplantation

Did you know that a single cornea donor can restore life-enhancing sight for up to two recipients, or that corneas can be transplanted between canine breeds?  By donating your pet’s eyes, you can make the compassionate choice to save the eyesight of another animal. Please read on to learn more.  

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Your pet’s cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Like a windshield, it protects the eye’s internal structures, while allowing light to enter for vision. When a pet with healthy eyes passes, its corneas can be recovered and used in a sight-restoring surgery for another animal with a blinding corneal disease such as corneal endothelial degeneration (CED) or corneal perforation. With CED, only the inside layer of the cornea is affected, and recent advances have made transplanting this layer possible in dogs.

People who are facing the loss of their pet can make the compassionate choice to save the eyesight of another animal. There is no substitute for eye tissue, and the transplantation process depends on the priceless gift of corneal donation to recipients in need. Donated eyes can also help lead to new treatments and cures for glaucoma, retinal disease, and other vision disorders.

  • A single donor can restore life-enhancing sight for up to four recipients. 
  • Corneas can be transplanted between canine breeds. 
  • Most breeds of dogs have very similar sized corneas.  

Advances in medical technology have made organ and tissue transplants successful in restoring eye health to many animals. Similar to human organ donations, the organs and tissues are collected after an animal has passed and then transferred to the animal in need within 24-48 hours. We treat every animal with complete respect. Tissues are recovered only after the time of death, so there is no discomfort or pain. There are no fees involved for the pet owner, and any costs associated with the recovery and preparation process are absorbed by the recovering doctor and transplant surgeon.  

To honor the pet that provided this gift, Animal Vision Center of Virginia will also make a donation in the pet’s name to The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists Vision for Animals Foundation®, for the purpose of ongoing animal ocular research and education.

If you are interested in eye donation for your pet, please contact Dr. Heather Brookshire at 757-749-4838.

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Visit our blog, In Focus, to learn more about the pets we see, the treatments we offer and the services we provide to help your pet “see a better life.”