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Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank's Work in Corneal Transplantation Contributes to Total Lifetime Net Benefit of Nearly $6 Billion

Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank’s Work in Corneal Transplantation Contributes to Total Lifetime Net Benefit of Nearly $6 Billion



Washington, DC– (October 8, 2013) –  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).  Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank has been an EBAA member since 1982 and will provide 2,000 corneas for transplant this year, with an estimated lifetime value of $173,487,878*.

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, an individual avoids the direct expenditures that come with vision loss, such as higher routine medical costs and long-term care costs, and the indirect costs of potential years of lost productivity to both the patients and their family caregivers.

Eye disorders are the fifth costliest to the U.S. economy after heart disease, cancer, emotional disorders and pulmonary conditions.

Edmund Jacobs, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, said the cost savings aren’t too surprising when you consider all the ways sight impacts our daily lives. “People take sight for granted quite easily,” Jacobs said, “but it affects every aspect of life. Seventy-five percent of the blind and visually impaired in this country are not in the workforce. When one is helped through a cornea transplant, it not only has an effect on daily activities of the recipient but also on our society as a whole.”

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

Age Group

No. of Patients with a Corneal Transplant in 2013

Per-capita Cost and Benefit

Total Net Lifetime Benefit

Medical Cost of Transplant

Benefits: Direct Medical

Benefits: Indirect

Net Lifetime Benefit




































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

Since the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank’s founding in1982, more than 45,000  men, women and children have received corneal transplants to restore vision and relieve pain from injury and disease to the eye. With a success rate greater than 95 percent, the one-hour procedure restores the patient’s sight and his or her quality of life. In fact, it’s one of the most common and least invasive transplant procedures. The EBAA study proves the value of the procedure and the economic benefit to the patient, family and society.

Corneal transplants also translate to direct federal and state government savings. This 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, and $74,194,452 * in the states served by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank.


For a full copy of the report, please contact EBAA at info@restoresight.org.


About Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB): RMLEB is the recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming. It is a nonprofit, charitable organization that serves eye donors and their families and provides for sight-saving transplantation locally, nationally and worldwide.


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 www.restoresight.org


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