According to the World Health Organisation, there are about 10 million blind persons in India – this number could double by 2020. Of these 10 million, nearly 2.5 million are blind due to corneal diseases.
Despite all measures, increase in public awareness and celebrities trying to uplift the eye donation movement, the gap between demand and supply of corneas in the country is overwhelming. Advancements in technology have not solved this issue as the number of corneas donated falls way below its requirement.
In India, corneal disease is second only to cataract for causing blindness.
What can you do?
If you decide to gift your eyes after death:
Contrary to popular belief, signing a donor card does not guarantee that your organs will be donated. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to inform your family of your desire to donate.
Hospitals seek consent of the next of kin before removing organs. Let your wish be known to your friends and relatives, who in turn must remember to honour your wish even in the time of grief.
Facts about Eye Donation :
Cornea is the clear, transparent tissue covering the front of the eye. Injuries, infections, diseases, chemical burns are some of the causes of corneal blindness.
Anyone of any age can donate eyes, even if they have undergone cataract surgery, wear spectacles, contact lenses or suffer from any systemic diseases.
Eyes are never removed from a living person.
Once death occurs in a family, call the nearest eye bank immediately.
The donor need not be taken to the eye bank. The team comes and removes the cornea without disfiguring the face.
Cornea has to be removed within 6 to 8 hours of death and can be preserved up to seven days.
Vision can be restored with corneal transplant.
Shroff Eye Opener # 91 T
oday, during cornea donation instead of the earlier practice of removing the whole eyeball from a deceased person, now only a portion of the surface of the eye (cornea) is removed.
A lot of people pledge their eyes on anniversaries or some personal remembrance days. But there is no follow-up later. The purpose is lost under a cloud of social and religious taboos, myths and misconceptions, or lack of motivation among staff or ignorance among family members of the deceased. Keeping in mind the religious myths regarding eye donation, it is essential to also involve religious organizations, who have immense hold over the masses to help out in this cause as although awareness about eye donation has increased among urban populace, rural masses have still to be educated.
Myth: I’m not in the greatest health, and my eyesight is poor.
Fact: Poor eyesight does not prohibit eye donation. Only the cornea, the clear front covering of your eye, is used for corneal transplantation. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. Don’t disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.
Myth: My religion prohibits donation.
Fact: Most of the major religions either openly support organ and tissue donation, or support the individual’s choice at his or her time of death.