The eyes have it

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2004

After dealing with years of vision loss, being able to see again is an experience like no other.

Joe Beckham, Alabama Eye Bank marketing director, said the organization ranks sixth in the nation for eye tissue procurement and seventh world-wide.

This week federal, state, and local government officials joined together to bring eye donation awareness to the forefront.

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U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., recently signed a proclamation declaring March as National Eye Donation Month.

Gov. Bob Riley, along with Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. and Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, soon followed suit with their proclamations.

When someone dies and leaves behind instructions to be a organ donor, the Alabama Eye Bank is contacted.

The eye’s cornea-the thin, clear tissue in front of the eye-is then transplanted into a recipient.

The transplant surgery, Bowman said, is relatively painless and 90 percent effective in restoring sight to those who have diseased corneas.

Bowman said donating the eyes of a deceased loved one is way to let that person live on forever.

Bowman had two cornea transplants in his left eye and one in his right.

Problems with glaucoma in his left eye caused Bowman to have the second transplant.

The Alabama Eye Bank is located in Birmingham, with regional offices in Montgomery, Huntsville, and Mobile.