LOROS Hospice part of new study to help with shortage of eye donors

Published on 9th December 2019

LOROS Hospice is working with researchers at the University of Southampton and clinical partners across England on a new project aimed at understanding the barriers to people consenting to donate their eyes after they have died.

Eye tissue is used to treat a variety of eye conditions and to aid research into new sight saving therapies. Currently there is around 20% less than is required.

In partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant service – with £720,000 funding from the National Institute for Health Research, researchers will investigate the viability of approaching patients in specialist palliative care settings or hospices such as LOROS, who may be willing to donate their eyes after they die.

Professor Christina Faull of LOROS Hospice said, “This is a really valuable project – eye donation is often overlooked by people who would otherwise donate tissues and organs. Many people may think it’s not possible for them to donate anything because of their cancer or other illness.

“We hope that as a hospice, we can help the researchers to understand the barriers, both practical and emotional, which deter patients and their families from considering eye donation.”

Lead researcher, Dr Tracy Long-Sutehall comments: “Understandably, people can hold very strong feelings about donating their eyes or those of a loved one – from concerns about disfigurement to cultural or religious considerations. We know that health care professionals can be reluctant to start conversations about the subject with patients or relatives for fear of causing upset or offence.

“Our study will tell us if donations could be increased if carefully managed approaches are made to patients and their families during hospice and palliative care.”

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