The Lions Eye Bank at Rochester is dedicated
to providing ocular tissue for transplantation,
medical education and research
The Lions Eye Bank at Rochester will serve
as a resource center for visual advocacy
How it all began
In March 1951, an article in the New York State Lion entitled, "The Cow's Tail" was written about seven Lions Clubs that founded the Buffalo Eye-Bank and Research Society in 1949, the Lions Blind Seal Campaign which brought in contributions for the maintenance of the Society and the 14 blind persons whose sight had been restored by corneal transplants. The stories impact was felt throughout NY State and inspired Nicholas Michailoff and others of the Schenectady Lions Club to consider the need for an eye bank in their area. Once the need was determined and confirmed, other Lions Clubs were contacted for support. In September 1951 a Steering Committee made up of area Lions Club members was formed, taking eight months to gather information and solicit backing from County Medical Societies and other Lions Clubs. At that time, individual members were sought for charter memberships of the Society.
On June 12, 1952, during a meeting, the Sight Conservation Society of Northeastern New York was officially organized. The agency then went through a name change and today is known as the Sight Society of Northeastern NY, Inc (SSNENY). Under the SSNENY, an eye bank was established and named the Lions Eye Bank at Albany (LEBA) and began serving 29 counties in Northeastern NY and Great Barrington, MA. In 2015, LEBA acquired the eye recovery program of the Rochester/Finger Lakes Eye & Tissue Bank and began serving 21 counties in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central and Northern NY regions as Lions Eye Bank at Rochester (LEBR).
Today, LEBR continues to facilitate eye donation by offering families the option for eye/cornea donation; recovers, processes and distributes corneal tissue for sight-restoring surgeries; provides educational programs for the public and healthcare professionals; supports donor families through its Donor Family Services program and promotes enrollment in the NY State Donate Life Organ and Tissue Donor Registry.