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Every March, since President Ronald Reagan made the first proclamation in 1983, has been noted as National Eye Donor Month. To commemorate this event, a member of Congress has read a proclamation into the Congressional Record every year at the beginning of March for the past 33 years. The Eye Bank Association of America wishes to promote the awareness concerning eye donation, the donors and their families and to celebrate those who have received donations. Locally, donors and recipients are encouraged to share their stories and Miguel has become one of the most involved participants in recent years.

Miguel Santos has seen more clearly for 21 years, thanks to the selflessness of a cornea donor and the donor’s family. In 1993, Santos was suffering from Keratoconus, a degenerative disorder of the eye. While his left eye was unaffected, he became legally blind in his right eye and needed surgery. Santos received a cornea transplant which restored his vision.

“I will always need glasses, but I can see,” Santos said.

More recently, Santos, who is diabetic, received a tissue transplant to repair damage to his gums. “What I received was not necessarily gift of life, but it was a gift of improving my life. Receiving a cornea I could see. Receiving gums I don’t have to have certain teeth pulled out and go through the pains of exposed roots.”

2016 will make as the EBAA’s third year of sponsoring the annual “Through My Eyes” art contest, which allows cornea recipients and donor family members to share their experience of receiving sight or giving sight through their loved one.  This year’s contest will include categories for personal experiences expressed through drawings, photos, video, and written stories.  Submissions should describe their journey, showing viewers the impact the gift of sight has had on their lives. Entries are due no later than Wednesday, February 17.

Encourage your donor families and corneal transplant recipients to submit an entry to the “Through My Eyes” Art Contest!

To view the criteria and submission form, please click here.