Lions’ Gift of Sight

The humble second-hand book sale is playing an important part in giving South Australians back the gift of sight.

The Lions Club of Glenside recently donated $24,000 from its regular 'Bookmart' to Flinders Foundation, to help purchase a new surgical device for the South Australian Eye Bank based at Flinders.

The equipment, called a microkeratome, cuts ocular tissue which is then used in corneal transplants to help restore sight in patients with poor vision from corneal disease.

Eye Bank staff are now able to pre-cut a thin layer of the donated cornea using this device and store it ready for future transplant, compared with the more expensive and time-consuming traditional method which required surgeons to cut the cornea by hand in the operating theatre immediately prior to surgery.

SA Eye Bank Acting Manager Tamme Golding-Holbrook says the Eye Bank began pre-cutting tissue in 2015 and demand has risen steadily since.

"Being able to offer pre-cut tissue to surgeons in SA not only saves time and expense, but there's additional benefits for patient outcomes," Tamme says.

"We're now able to more accurately measure the tissue, and the recipient doesn't require sutures which can reduce their recovery time and risks from some complications."

With the Eye Bank pre-cutting more than 60 corneas last year alone, the service required a second device to cope with demand - and Lions answered the call.

"This procedure often takes 1.5 to two hours, so having a second device means we can do more, and do them more efficiently, as there are no delays while we wait for the device to be sterilised," Tamme says.

Tamme says community support for the Eye Bank is invaluable.

"I meet potential recipients of corneal transplants all the time - many of them can't work, drive, or look after their kids because they are so vision impaired, and that's really hard to cope with," Tammy says.

It's so rewarding to see them after and to know that we were able to do something to give that sight back.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Lions for helping us to make a huge difference in so many people's lives."

Speak with the Flinders Foundation team on 8204 5216 or email to find out how you can support research and patient care across Flinders.

This article also appeared in the Messenger Newspaper, click the image below to read the full story or click here to view the original messenger article on-line.

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