Eye donation: important things to keep in mind

In India, nearly 40 million people are blind or visually impaired, including 1.6 million children according to the World Health Organization. “It is also estimated that there are 8.4 million people in the country who suffer from corneal blindness with less than 6/60 vision in at least one eye. While blindness continues to be a major health problem in India, many people are unaware that corneal blindness can be cured with a corneal transplant that replaces diseased or damaged corneal tissue with corneal tissue from a donor. . Although the infrastructure and skills required for corneal transplant are readily available in India, fear and lack of awareness are critical barriers to eye donation, ”said Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director of ENTOD Pharmaceuticals .

What is corneal blindness and its treatment?

Corneal blindness is a term used to describe any visual impairment that results from scarring or opacity of the cornea due to injury or other infections. “It includes a range of eye diseases, infections or injuries that damage corneal tissue leading to permanent blindness,” he added.

People of all genders and ages can pledge to donate their eyes.

Common causes of corneal blindness include:

* Congenital disease.
* Vitamin A deficiency.
* Eye trauma.
* Sequelae of fungal, viral or bacterial infections.
* Traditional medicines or home remedies often damage the eyes instead of improving the condition.

“A cornea transplant is primarily used to treat corneal blindness. This is a surgical procedure where the diseased or opaque cornea is replaced by a clear cornea obtained from a human donor, ”he explained.

How to become an eye donor

Since eye donation only takes place after death, it is important to sign an eye donation pledge at a registered eye bank. Masurkar explained that after reviewing the details and submitting the form, the next step is to let family / friends know about the decision. “During the time of the donation, the consent of the next of kin is required in the presence of two witnesses to allow the donation to take place,” he added.

How long does it take to harvest the corneas

It is always recommended to harvest the corneas six hours after the donor’s death, he suggested. To maintain corneal viability after death, it is important to keep the deceased’s eyes closed and covered with cotton or a damp cloth. A short 15 to 20 minute procedure is usually required to harvest the corneas.

Who can donate?

People of all genders and ages can pledge to donate their eyes. People with refractive errors such as farsightedness and myopia and those with problems such as high blood pressure can also donate their eyes. However, certain conditions do not make people ineligible to donate their eyes, including: hepatitis B and C, AIDS, rabies, sepsis, tetanus, cholera, acute leukemia (cancer of the blood) and infectious diseases such as encephalitis and meningitis.

Some other points to keep in mind when donating eyes

* Eyes can be donated even if the deceased did not formally agree to donate the eyes.
* Decision eyes can also be taken by relatives of the deceased.
* A person with cataracts or glasses can also donate eyes.
* A cornea is grafted onto a person.
* Eye donation leaves no disfigurement that interferes with current funeral practices.
* It is important to keep the head of the deceased elevated at least six inches before donating the eye.

“Each eye donation can provide two people with vision and can reduce the shortage of eye donors in India. It also helps in improving the overall health of the nation. It is a noble cause, and people should not miss the opportunity to restore vision to those who need it most, ”he said.

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