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Eyes for the Netherlands Brain Bank

As the eye is part of the brain, we collect eyes for research as well. The eyes may be used for investigation of (hereditary) eye diseases or to study similarities between tissues from the eye and the brain.

Over the last ten years, the Departments of Ophthalmogenetics of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN-KNAW) and of Ophthalmology of the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) collected postmortem eyes for investigation of (mainly) eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration. The last 3 years, a close collaboration with the Netherlands Brain Bank was started, resulting in a merger in 2013. Before the merger, it was only possible to collect eyes within the neighborhood of Amsterdam. Now it is possible to become eye donor anywhere in the Netherlands through the donor program of the Netherlands Brain Bank.

The procedures before and after a donor’s death are equal to those of the Netherlands Brain Bank in general. Once the donor eyes are collected, the eyes are cut in two parts according to standardized protocols. Next, the inside of the eye is photographed from different angles. One part of the eye is directly used (physiological experiments), or deep-frozen for (future) molecular investigations, while the other part of the eye is fixed for (future) microscopic examinations. The tissue is distributed according to the NBB’s guidelines for postmortem brain tissues.