Nova Scotia's minister of health says it's time for a national registry and more provincial co-operation when it comes to a procedure that could help hundreds of Atlantic Canadians regain their full sight.

According to Capital Health, there are more than 200 people waiting for corneal transplants in Atlantic Canada.

The figure is growing, in part, because more patients are eligible for a new surgical procedure. Dr. Guillermo Rocha, head of a national society of corneal surgeons, said he believes wait lists could be eliminated with more provincial co-operation.

"In terms of tissue distribution, tissue availability, and eliminating corneal blindness, we are probably worse than some of the third world countries," he said.

'We are probably worse than some of the third world countries.' —Dr. Guillermo Rocha

Last year 70 healthy surplus corneas were destroyed in Quebec after authorities offered them unsuccessfully to other provinces.

Quebec's eye bank accreditation is not recognized in the rest of Canada.

Health officials say this lack of co-ordination is hurting the system.

The Canadian Blood Services is willing to set up a registry, but not all the provinces have agreed to it.

"We want to make sure our interests are at the table when we make a decision like this. No question we would love to see it," said Nova Scotia's Health Minister David Wilson.

"I think it would benefit not only Nova Scotians, but Maritimers and Canadians as a whole."

Wilson says health ministers are expected to discuss the idea of a national registry when they meet in the fall.