Page updated at 11 p.m. ET on May 6, 2022
Our commitment to patient safety
Eversight consistently applies comprehensive safety standards and strict medical screening criteria from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) in recovering and preparing donated eye tissue for transplantation. According to these regulatory standards, potential donors known or suspected to have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are disqualified from donating eye tissue for surgical transplantation.
Eversight continually assesses the latest scientific research and eye banking practices to ensure our techniques best mitigate any infection risk, not just the risk of COVID-19. We researched, developed and implemented an improved infection prevention protocol in 2019 that further mitigates risk at the time of procurement with a proven double antiseptic soak. Our rigorous standards ensure patient safety and the safety of the donor tissue provided for transplantation.
Additional tissue safety precautions
The FDA and EBAA require that eye banks follow guidelines that effectively ensure tissue safety. These requirements do not and have never included testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, out of an abundance of caution, Eversight began testing potential surgical tissue donors for SARS-CoV-2 in June 2020 to provide additional peace of mind for patients and surgeons. In the 12 months that followed, researchers at Eversight and other institutions investigated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its presence in the eye.
The research available to date indicates that post-mortem testing of donors for COVID-19 does not provide greater safety to cornea transplant recipients. In accordance with these findings, Eversight discontinued donor testing for COVID-19 in July 2021, while maintaining strict screening criteria in accordance with EBAA guidelines. Detailed clinical information about the discontinuation of post-mortem SARS-CoV-2 donor testing is available on our Tissue Safety page.
Status of events & programs
We suspended all in-person events and programs in 2020 and safely held select in-person events in 2021 to minimize risk and protect the Eversight family and broader community. In-person event decisions continue to be informed by state and federal guidance, as well as consultation with our medical directors and teams. Precautions such as physical distancing and utilizing outdoor venues aim to accommodate safe celebrations and collaborations with our physicians, partners and supporters.
Preparedness & continuity
As was widely expected, developments surrounding COVID-19 evolved quickly in early 2020. We focused on preparedness across all of our service area locations in the U.S. and South Korea to ensure the safety of our staff and continuity of our service. The well-being of our staff and those we serve—including our surgeons and their patients, researchers, donor families and volunteers—is our highest priority.
Our commitment to serving our surgeons and their patients is unwavering. Despite a temporary suspension of elective surgeries, we saw limited disruption in service to our mission: to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research. As always, our clinical operations team follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standard safety precautions to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the gifts of donated tissues we recover. Donors are screened for diagnosed or possible COVID-19 according to regulatory guidelines.
As of 2022, in-person industry conference attendance, wet lab surgical trainings, philanthropic fundraising events and community outreach programs are safely underway. We make each decision with great thought and care for our communities, in accordance with all state and federal guidance and in consultation with our medical directors and teams.
We established preventive measures in 2020 to protect the Eversight team in accordance with public health guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), CDC and state health departments. Measures included suspending travel, providing remote work arrangements wherever possible and extending sick leave policies for our employees. In 2022, Eversight employees are traveling safely and will begin hybrid in-office and remote work where possible, as our communities can safely travel and return to in-person work.
Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our Eversight team. We are committed to taking care of our people, and we will continuously evaluate and communicate as needed.
Eversight is a nonprofit organization with a mission to restore sight and prevent blindness through the healing power of donation, transplantation and research. The Eversight network is responsible for recovering, evaluating and providing human eye tissue for transplantation; supporting research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions; promoting donation awareness through public and professional education; and providing humanitarian aid to people around the world in need of corneal transplantation. Operating in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and South Korea, Eversight works in collaboration with surgeons, researchers, academic medical centers and eye banks across the United States and abroad. For more information, visit eversightvision.org.