Corneal transplants performed in the United States this year will result in nearly $6 billion in total net benefits over the lifetime of the recipients, according to a six-month study undertaken by the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA). Heartland Lions Eye Banks has been an EBAA member since 1961 and will provide nearly 2,600 corneas for transplant this year – an estimated lifetime value of $217,214,628*.

The study compared the medical cost of transplant procedures to the direct and indirect lifetime costs of the alternative: living with blindness or severe vision impairment. With a corneal transplant, a recipient avoids the direct expenditures that come with vision loss (e.g., higher routine medical costs and long-term care costs) and the indirect costs of potential years of lost productivity to both the recipient and any family caregivers.

“We’re acutely aware of how valuable cornea transplants are to our recipients because they tell us,” said Tony Bavuso, chief executive officer of Heartland Lions Eye Banks. “But this study gives us a more objective understanding of the financial benefits of our work. I think the EBAA has done a great job of illustrating that cornea transplants not only give the gift of sight to recipients but they also enhance productivity and reduce medical costs for our nation.”

Eye disorders are the fifth costliest to the U.S. economy after heart disease, cancer, emotional disorders and pulmonary conditions. The Eye Bank Association of America commissioned this study to determine the economic impact of corneal transplants. Researchers used previous years’ transplant numbers and census data to estimate total corneal transplants for the full 2013 calendar year.

The cost-benefit analysis depicted in the table below reveals that the lifetime benefit of the procedure is overwhelmingly greater than the costs of the surgery.

Lifetime Economic Cost-Benefit of Corneal Transplantation

Source: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Corneal Transplant, September 2013, The Lewin Group

Since Heartland Lions Eye Banks’ founding in 1960, more than 40,600 men, women and children have received corneal transplants to restore vision and relieve pain from injury and eye disease. With a success rate greater than 95 percent, the one-hour procedure restores the patient’s sight and quality of life. In fact, it’s one of the most common and least invasive transplant procedures performed in the U.S.

Corneal transplants also translate into direct savings by the federal and state governments. The study assumed full retirement at age 65, so the net indirect cost savings is small for these patients, but the per-capita lifetime net medical benefits of $67,500 for patients age 65 or greater receiving corneal transplants in 2013 will save Medicare, Medicaid and patients a combined $2.4 billion nationally, including $92,894,792* in the states served by Heartland Lions Eye Banks.

For a full copy of the report, please contact EBAA at

About Heartland Lions Eye Banks:
Heartland Lions Eye Banks is a division of the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by saving sight through eye banking, community vision programs and eye care assistance. HLEB operates six branches throughout Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, and it’s one of the five largest eye banks in the U.S., offering high-quality donor tissue to corneal transplant surgeons. For more information, contact

About EBAA:
The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), established in 1961, is the oldest transplant association in the nation and champions the restoration of sight through corneal transplantation. Over 80 member eye banks operate in the United States, Canada and Asia. These eye banks made possible more than 70,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants in 2012 and the opportunity to perform more transplants is significant. Aside from those suffering from infections or communicable diseases, virtually everyone is a universal donor. The function of corneal tissue is not dependent on blood type, age, strength of eyesight or the color of the eye. To learn more, visit

* Savings calculations are determined by multiplying the net lifetime benefit by number of patients served in 2012.