Eye Tissue Around the World

Eye Tissue Recovered Locally, Shared Globally

By Rae Price - March 21, 2024

Donated eye tissue is recovered by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank in Colorado and Wyoming, but the gift of sight reaches around the world.

Mission to Restore Sight

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) is “to fulfill the wishes of eye donors and their families to help another overcome blindness through transplantation and research.” This statement helps guide everything we do.

Although we are based in Colorado and Wyoming, our mission doesn’t end at the states’ borders; we reach much further. In fact, in 2023, eye tissue from RMLEB helped restore sight for individuals in 29 states and at least 28 other countries.

RMLEB’s community and public relations (CPR) team provides regular reports to hospitals detailing the number of eye tissues recovered and where they were transplanted. Janet Barriger, chaplain at St. Anthony North Hospital recently commented, “Thanks. I love sharing this data with our chaplain team, especially the world map about where people have received this gift of sight from your team.”

As a member of the CPR team, it is also one of my favorite statistics to share. Staff at smaller community hospitals are often surprised that eye tissue from their hospital has impacted lives around the world.

Many people are familiar with Lions Clubs and have heard of some of their vision-related efforts, perhaps most notably, the collection of used eyeglasses. It was the commitment to vision that moved the Lions of Colorado and Wyoming to start the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank in 1982. Those local Lions clubs are affiliated with Lions Clubs International (LCI) which is described on its website as a world leader in the effort to prevent avoidable blindness. RMLEB often works with other Lions Eye Banks to help send eye tissue needed by  surgeons in other countries.

RMLEB has also worked with University of Colorado Health eye surgeons when they embark on medical mission trips to restore sight.

Realizing the far-reaching result of the organization’s work, RMLEB Executive Director, John Lohmeier said, “It is rewarding to know our work not only helps people in our immediate service area, but that we are having a world-wide impact. Having a part in restoring sight and changing someone’s life is extremely satisfying.”

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