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Embalming After Eye Donation

Funeral Service Professionals


NOTE: These recommendations are also available as a laminated poster suitable for the embalming room. Contact the Public & Professional Relations Department. In Colorado: 800-444-7479. In Wyoming: 800-336-6192.

The following embalming recommendations are provided as a reference and should not be deemed the only effective method of treatment. The embalmer should use his/her individual judgment and expertise to analyze each case involving eye tissue recovery.

The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank contracts with a mortuary science expert for advice. If you have questions not answered here, call the Public & Professional Relations Department at 800-444-7479. In Wyoming, call 800-336-6192.

In all cases involving corneal excision or eye enucleation:

  • Swelling is not a direct result of the enucleation or corneal excision. Swelling may be ante-mortem or occur as a result of the events that take place after the recovery. This includes manipulation of the eyelids and excessive injection pressure and rate of flow or leaving head lower than the chest for an extended period of time. The body may have been placed face down by the tissue bank for other tissue recovery.
  • The use of restricted cervical injection can be considered to control the amount of arterial solution entering the head.
  • Do not pre-inject the body.
  • A slightly stronger than average solution is recommended.
  • Avoid excessive manipulation of the eye tissues before and during arterial injection.
  • The embalmer should watch the eyes closely during the injection process to ensure the amount of pressure and rate of flow is accurate for the situation and will not cause swelling. Start with a low injection pressure and increase if needed.

Corneal Excision:

  • If only the cornea has been removed, then the embalming should proceed as normal. The eyes should be set after the arterial injection.
  • After completion of the arterial injection, aspirate any accumulation of embalming fluid in the eye with a needle and syringe through the incision already made by the eye bank technician. A small amount of incision seal powder should be placed in the cavity, followed by the use of suitable filler and an eye cap.
  • Once confident the eye is not purging fluid, secure the eyelid in place with an adhesive at the time cosmetics are applied.

Eye Enucleation:

  • Remove any packing left in the eye, and fill the orbit with cotton saturated with autopsy gel.
  • Embalm the body.
  • Remove the cotton saturated with autopsy gel, and dry out the orbit.
  • Place a small amount of incision seal powder in the orbit, and pack the orbital cavity with suitable filler.
  • Place an eye cap over the filler and secure the eyelid in place with an adhesive at the time cosmetics are applied.