“The only worse thing than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Imagine one day morning you get up, and you have no vision. imagine not being able to see your family, the beautiful world and not being able to do your daily chores. Have you ever thought how difficult your life would become? People say I love darkness but practically we cannot live without seeing anything in this world. 90% of the sensory input to our brain is from eyes and we take this power of being able to see for granted.
There are roughly 12 million blind people in India out of which 1,20,000 people have corneal blindness which is preventable and every year there is an addition of 25,000-30,000 cases to this. The cornea is an important part of the eye which is situated outside and is transparent normally but can become opaque because of infection, injuries, malnutrition, and due to congenital or hereditary reasons.
Corneal transplantation is a surgery in which opaque cornea is replaced with a clear cornea from an eye donor. This is possible because of eye donation. Eye donation is the noblest thing because it opens up a new world of light for the blind. All we need to do is that we should approach an eye donation center and pledge when we are alive, to donate our eyes after we die.
Though in India number of such calls willing to donate eyes have increased. But still, it is very low as compared to the demand because people are unaware of it and people have a lot of myths about eye donation. The number of eye donation per year in only around 50,000 of which, roughly, only 50% eyes are used for transplants. However, many health organizations are engaging themselves in the task of creating awareness and counseling about this. And this way some improvement has been seen. But still, a lot more is to be done.
The National Eye Donation Fortnight is observed every year from 25th August to 8th September. It is a campaign which aims to create mass public awareness about the importance of eye donation and to motivate people to pledge their eyes for donation after death. We are lucky enough to have this at KLE Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital and Medical Research Centre.
People all over the world must be educated about eye donation and they must be convinced about leaving their myths. Only if eye donation becomes a tradition, the corneal blindness prevalence can be reduced.
These are the facts which will help you clear some of the myths regarding eye donation:
Eyes may be donated only after death
1. Eyes must be removed within 4-6 hours after death, and the nearest eye bank should be informed immediately.
2. Eyes may be removed only by a trained doctor.
3. The eye bank team will remove the eyes at the home of the deceased or at a hospital.
4. Eye removal takes only 10 to 15 minutes, is simple and does not lead to any disfigurement.
5. Please remember that only the transparent section of the eyes called cornea is taken out and not the full eye ball.
6. A small quantity of blood will be drawn to rule out communicable diseases.
7. The eyes can be pledged to any eye bank preferably the nearest one.
8. The identities of both the donor and the recipient remain confidential.
9. One pair of eyes gives vision to FOUR corneal blind people.
Who can donate eyes?
• Eye donors can belong to any age group or sex.
• People who use spectacles, short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism or even those operated for cataract can still donate, as these conditions may not affect the cornea.
• Patients who are diabetics, those suffering from hypertension, asthma patients and those without communicable diseases can also donate eyes.
• Persons who were infected with or died from AIDS, Hepatitis B or C, rabies, septicaemia, acute leukemia, tetanus, cholera, meningitis or encephalitis cannot donate eyes.
• Eyes donated to The Eye-Bank that are not medically suitable for transplant may be used for medical research and education.
When you come across death…
Please take the following precautions to preserve the eyes
• Close the eyes of the deceased completely and place moist cotton over them.
• Raise the head about six inches with a pillow, to lessen the incidence of bleeding during removal of the eyes.
• Fans should be switched off.
• Put a polythene cover with few ice cubes on forehead.
• If possible instil antibiotic eye drops periodically to prevent infection.
• Inform eye bank immediately.
With the help of our eyes, someone else who is blind will be able to get that gift. Indeed, eye donation is one of the best donations that we can ever make.
It is the most humanitarian of acts that we can commit during our lifetime. So why wait? Let’s one and all go to the nearest eye donation centre and pledge our eyes as a gift to mankind!
EYES ARE A PRECIOUS GIFT TO MANKIND AND A WISE MAN UTILIZES THE GIFT WHILE ALIVE, AND AFTER DEATH TOO…
About the Author: Dr Umesh Harakuni, Ophthalmologist KLES Dr Prabhakar Kore Hospital & MRC, Belagavi