TV3 News Corneal Eye Donation

15.30 minutes into the news below, is a piece on eye donation and corneal transplantation, by Eye Institute’s very own Professor Charles McGhee.

Each year hundreds of New Zealanders with failing sight need a corneal transplant, but as Emma Brannam reports there’s currently a real shortage of eye donors.
Mary Flett owes her sight to the generosity of strangers. Life has taken on a new perspective.

“It changed it completely. I painted the house; I wallpapered the house; I do the garden, ice a few cakes,” she says.

Mary has a disease of the corneas. She’s needed both replaced several times. The last, a graft on her right eye, took place a few weeks ago.

“I feel very blessed that somebody has donated their eye to help me see,” she says.

Professor Charles McGhee carried out Mary’s surgery and it’s healing nicely. She was lucky to get in; a shortage of donated eyes has left him cancelling operations.

“I think people are very squeamish about thinking that if someone has died and it’s their loved one and they’re obviously very upset and bereaved – ‘oh they’re now going to be disfigured’ – but when you remove the eyes and the eyes are closed, it does not look any different,” he says.

The cornea helps the eye to focus. Replacing it is a simple but delicate operation, as this close up of Mary’s eye shows.

This is the country’s only eye bank. All donated eyes are brought here to be stored, evaluated and sent out for transplants, and as you can imagine, the tissue doesn’t stay here long.

Louise Moffatt runs the bank, which is based in Auckland University.

“We’re required to actually provide about eight corneas a week. The demand is higher than that so we need to actually supply more than one a day and that hasn’t been happening in general terms,” she says.

A cornea can be kept for several weeks in storage. Sclera, the white part of the eye, can also be kept and used for reconstructive surgery.

Up to four people can benefit from one donor.

“Many, many people in our country can actually donate their corneas. They’re suitable, and that includes people with a lot of medical conditions,” says Mrs Moffatt.

Professor McGhee agrees there needs to be more awareness.

“Technically a number of people would be blind before we can get around to doing corneal transplants for them” he says.

And if anyone’s in any doubt about donating their eyes: “You make the blind see. I don’t think that you can do any better than that” said Professor McGhee.

Mary would attest to that.

Are you suitable for laser eye surgery ?

Our hassle-free treatments aren’t suitable for everyone.

The first step is to take our self test so you can find out whether you’re a good candidate.

Take quiz now

Our most popular procedures

Gain relief from a worrying eye condition

We understand that any issue with your eyes can be a weight on your shoulders. Book an appointment today, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of your issue and put your mind at ease.

Book an appointment

Gain relief from a worrying eye condition

We understand that any issue with your eyes can be a weight on your shoulders. Book an appointment today, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of your issue and put your mind at ease.

Book an appointment
Meet our world-class surgeons

Our industry-leading experts are here to guide you every step of the way

Dr Nick Mantell

Dr Mantell is a specialist in refractive and cataract surgery. He has restored the vision of thousands of people in his 17-year career.

LEARN MORE

Dr Peter Ring

Dr Ring is an expert in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr Shanu Subbiah

Dr Subbiah is a cataract, corneal and laser surgery specialist.

LEARN MORE

Dr Adam Watson

Dr Watson specialises in treating many aspects of the eye, including the face, eyelids, tear drainage system and the cornea.

LEARN MORE

Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer

Professor Danesh-Meyer is an international authority on glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology and one of the most highly regarded experts in her field.

LEARN MORE

Prof Charles McGhee

Professor Charles McGhee, a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon for 25 years, specialises in corneal diseases and cataract surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr William Cunningham

Dr Cunningham is a consultant ophthalmologist who specialises in cataract surgery and vitreoretinal surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr Sophie Hill

Dr Hill completed her MBBS at St Georges University of London in 2008, also obtaining an Intercalated BSc from King’s College University, London.

LEARN MORE

Dr Peter Hadden

Dr Hadden specialises in vitreoretinal and cataract surgery, including the treatment of intraocular tumours.

LEARN MORE

Dr Narme Deva

Dr Narme Deva is a key opinion leader for Medical retina and Uveitis in New Zealand.

LEARN MORE

Dr Liz Insull

Dr Elizabeth Insull is a New Zealand and UK trained Oculoplastic and Ophthalmic surgeon.

LEARN MORE

Dr Kaliopy Matheos

Dr Matheos is an ophthalmologist with subspecialist training in glaucoma and anterior segment surgery, cataract surgery and pterygium surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr John Beaumont

Dr Beaumont is a general ophthalmologist. He specialises in surgical ophthalmology, medical ophthalmology and urgent eye trauma care.

LEARN MORE

Dr Jay Meyer

Dr Meyer is a specialist eye surgeon specialising in cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal diseases and surgeries.

LEARN MORE

Dr Graham Reeves

Dr Reeves has advanced training in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma. He offers a variety of laser and surgical treatments, including minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr Divya Perumal

Dr Perumal is a New Zealand trained ophthalmologist with advanced training in glaucoma and cataract surgery.

LEARN MORE

Dr Narme Deva

Dr Narme Deva is a key opinion leader for Medical retina and Uveitis in New Zealand.
LEARN MORE

Dr Peter Ring

Dr Ring is an expert in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr Shanu Subbiah

Dr Subbiah is a cataract, corneal and laser surgery specialist.
LEARN MORE

Dr Adam Watson

Dr Watson specialises in treating many aspects of the eye, including the face, eyelids, tear drainage system and the cornea.
LEARN MORE

Prof Helen Danesh-Meyer

Professor Danesh-Meyer is an international authority on glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology and one of the most highly regarded experts in her field.
LEARN MORE

Prof Charles McGhee

Professor Charles McGhee, a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon for 25 years, specialises in corneal diseases and cataract surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr William Cunningham

Dr Cunningham is a consultant ophthalmologist who specialises in cataract surgery and vitreoretinal surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr Peter Hadden

Dr Hadden specialises in vitreoretinal and cataract surgery, including the treatment of intraocular tumours.
LEARN MORE

Dr Liz Insull

Dr Elizabeth Insull is a New Zealand and UK trained Oculoplastic and Ophthalmic surgeon.
LEARN MORE

Dr Kaliopy Matheos

Dr Matheos is an ophthalmologist with subspecialist training in glaucoma and anterior segment surgery, cataract surgery and pterygium surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr John Beaumont

Dr Beaumont is a general ophthalmologist. He specialises in surgical ophthalmology, medical ophthalmology and urgent eye trauma care
LEARN MORE

Dr Jay Meyer

Dr. Meyer is a specialist eye surgeon specialising in cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal diseases and surgeries.
LEARN MORE

Dr Graham Reeves

Dr Reeves has advanced training in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma. He offers a variety of laser and surgical treatments, including minimally invasive glaucoma surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr Divya Perumal

Dr Perumal is a New Zealand trained ophthalmologist with advanced training in glaucoma and cataract surgery.
LEARN MORE

Dr Nick Mantell

Dr Mantell is a specialist in refractive and cataract surgery. He has restored the vision of thousands of people in his 17-year career.
LEARN MORE

Dr Sophie Hill

Dr Hill completed her MBBS at St Georges University of London in 2008, also obtaining an Intercalated BSc from King’s College University, London.
LEARN MORE

See all surgeons