New NHS and Specsavers partnerships aims to boost the number of people agreeing to cornea donation

8 April 2024

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is launching its first ever cornea partnership with national opticians Specsavers this spring to highlight the need for more people to give the gift of sight.

By partnering with one of the biggest and best loved businesses on the high street, NHSBT aims to raise awareness of the importance of cornea donation in helping restore the sight of thousands of people awaiting a corneal transplant across the UK.

Last year, 3,529 people in England had their sight restored through corneal transplants. However, there is still an urgent need for more people to donate their corneas as currently around 6,000 patients wait for corneal transplants with an average wait time of around 18 months.

By registering for eye donation (which includes the cornea and sclera), you could potentially help up to 10 people have their sight restored and allow them to see their friends and family properly again.

How cornea donation can help

Marcus standing in front of fire stationMarcus is a 51-year-old cornea recipient and a firefighter from Bristol. He received a cornea transplant following a freak accident on a farm. He said:

"I was on holiday in New Zealand when I was working on a farm and a metal bar struck my face, causing significant damage to my eyes and socket. The possibility of a corneal transplant gave me hope for improving my eyesight. I underwent the transplant at Bristol Eye Hospital, and since then, my vision has become much more stable, allowing me to continue my work in the fire service.

"I am immensely grateful to the family of the cornea donor as their generosity has made a significant difference in my life and that of my family".

A video featuring Marcus sharing his experience as a cornea recipient will be shared across various social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, in the hope of educating people about the process and highlighting the transformative impact cornea donation has on people’s lives.


Research shows that cornea donation is one of the least understood forms of donation and many people are unaware that you can donate corneas even if you aren’t able to donate solid organs. Most people can donate their corneas after death – even those who have had cancer or have poor eyesight.

As of the end of March 2023, 81% of people who have signed the NHS Organ Donor Register expressed a willingness to donate all organs and tissue (*where information was available).

However, 11.5% of all registrants opted out of cornea donation, and if this trend persists, it could potentially leave more than 400 patients without the gift of sight each year.

You can easily update your decision to donate corneas at any time on the NHS Organ Donor Register and help give someone the gift of sight.