Eye tissue shortage may affect clinical research

Rockville, MD-The future of clinical ophthalmology may be uncertain due to a decrease in the number of human donor eyes provided by U.S. eye banks, according to the results of a recent survey.

Rockville, MD-The future of clinical ophthalmology may be uncertain due to a decrease in the number of human donor eyes provided by U.S. eye banks, according to the results of a recent survey.

Christine A. Curcio, PhD, of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's (ARVO) Research Tissue Acquisition Working Group (RTAWG), led the survey of 240 U.S. ARVO members. The group found that cost and lack of availability of tissue meeting stringent criteria were the major factors among those surveyed.

Over the last decade, federal and state regulations severely impacted the availability of human eye tissue for research, the group said. Even some local laws are affecting individual eye bank practices, according to the group.

"Nowhere do impediments to obtaining human eyes for research have more impact than in the effort to understand age-related macular degeneration," said Dr. Curcio, professor of ophthalmology, University of Alabama, Birmingham. "Macular degeneration, an advanced form of which now has treatment options, still lacks a laboratory animal model that displays the full range of pathology typifying the human disorder. Thus, human tissues are particularly critical."

The survey results are published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences (2006;47:2747-2749).