Ocular Tissue for Research in Australia: Strategies for Potential Research Utility of Surplus and Transplant-Ineligible Deceased Donations

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020 Apr 13;9(5):4. doi: 10.1167/tvst.9.5.4. eCollection 2020 Apr.


A 2016 Price Waterhouse Cooper Report, commissioned by the Australian Commonwealth Government's Organ and Tissue Authority, indicated that Australia had been meeting its human ocular tissue for transplant needs. It further suggested that Australia should consider exportation as a management strategy for excess tissue. Although we do not seek to discuss how the Price Waterhouse Cooper Report determined that need was being met, nor the potential value of exportation in this article, we propose that Ocular Tissue for Research (OTR), and particularly identification of donors for research, and timely access to fresh domestic tissue, be considered as an alternate or simultaneous surplus management strategy. A robust OTR system could provide long-term domestic support and investment into research and development of therapies in Australia. Such a system would also provide a meaningful donation option for those otherwise unable to donate for transplant. This article attempts to document, for the first time to our knowledge, the current recovery and distribution processes of deceased OTR in Australia. It maps the process steps, identifies the stakeholders and needs, discusses the limitations and barriers, and proposes key policy and practice reform strategies that may assist in improving access to OTR.

Translational relevance: To improve and increase access to human ocular tissue for research, and in turn, advance vision science and clinical application.

Keywords: biobank; eye bank; future therapies; human tissue; ocular tissue for research; vision science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*