The concept of the Eye Bank was supported by the International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks (IFETB), before TIO was even built in 1994.
As the only Eye Bank in Nepal it has the responsibility to carry out various important functions, including:
- Harvesting corneas
- Processing and preserving corneas
- Blood testing
- Distribution of corneas
- Conducting public awareness campaigns
- Maintaining the records of patients who are waiting for corneal transplants
In the initial years, corneas were excised from a deceased body in the open at the cremation site at Pashupatinath temple (the major cremation site of Kathmandu), mostly on the bank of river with crowd of people watching. With an active participation of Lions Club of Pashupatinath and generous support from Pashupati Area Development Trust, a proper Eye Donation Information Center & Cornea Excision Center was set up at the Cremation site of Bhasmeswar Ghat of Pashupati Area. With this facility, information & counseling services are is provided to the relatives of deceased people.
Training and orientation in eye banking has also been given to doctors and medical students of other eye hospitals of Nepal and other countries.
Public awareness campaigns for cornea donation have required a lot of commitment and it is a continuous process for the Eye Bank technicians, local Lions clubs, entertainers and individuals, who have all participated in innovative public awareness campaigns, high-profile donations and cornea pledge meetings. One of the highlights in 2009 when prominent artists of Nepal got together and made paintings for TIO. All these paintings were exhibited to raise funds for the eye bank. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to achieve even more awareness.
A memorial service is organized every year for all the eye donors. The families of the donors pay respect to their deceased relative and the benefactors (cornea transplanted patients) join in to express gratitude and share their experience of their journey from darkness to light.