“Sarvendriyanam nayanam pradhanam” – Vision is considered the most vital of all senses since the eyes help us see the colourful surroundings.
However, it’s very unfortunate that about 150 lakh people in our country do not have vision.This means, 40% of the world’s blindness is in India. Out of these, 25 lakh suffer from corneal blindness of which one third are below 14 years of age. Corneal blindness can be fixed and their sight can be restored.
Cornea is the front part of our eyeball. Light crosses this transparent layer to reach our retina to produce an image. For various reasons the cornea loses its transparency and vision diminishes, this is called corneal blindness. Main reasons are usually infection and trauma. In children this may happen due to malnutrition leading to vitamin A deficiency. Another common reason is the lime-stone or chuna used in betel leaves or pan. If it falls into the eye it can cause whitening of the cornea. Hence it is always safe to keep limestone away from children.
Cornea cannot be synthetically prepared in the labs. Only those cornea which are donated after a person’s death can be used in corneal grafting. There is nothing more divine than giving sight to at least two people after death rather than burning them with the body.
We all have heard about great Shibi chakravarthi, Jeemutavahana, Dadheechi and many others who have dedicated their life in serving others. Donating eyes can bring light to a few more lives even after death and is considered as good as a salvation.
Corneal grafting is a boon to people suffering from corneal blindness. This revolutionary surgery can bring back vision to many. In this surgery, white or the non-transparent cornea is removed and surgically replaced by transparent cornea of the person who donated eyes after death. In this way blind people are benefited and get a second chance to see things around them
There are very few people in India who wilfully donate their eyes. About 90 lakh deaths every year result in 180 lakh cornea being burnt or buried with the body. Even if a substantial number of these people donate their eyes when they die, the 25 lakh corneal blind in our country can get their eyesight.
What are issues that prevent eye donation?
The main issues preventing eye donation are:
- lack of information
- disinterest in eye donation
- religious myths about it
Also, due to legal issues that eyes cannot be separated from the body until post mortem is completed in case of unnatural death, many cornea are being wasted. Healthier corneas of young people dying due to unnatural causes can be more useful than the aged ones for grafting. Police and forensic departments of the medical colleges taking a step to donate such eyes will help eradicate blindness. Workers and organisers need to make eye donation a social commitment.
Our corneal blind brothers and sisters will be able to see light only when every household celebrates eye donation as a religious ritual.
Is the eye donation procedure complicated?
Eye donation procedure is not complicated at all. Even if the dead person has not pledged or registered for eye donation, a close relative can take a decision and bring it to effect by following a few simple steps
- Call the nearest eye bank as soon as you decide to donate eyes and provide the address and other details. Phone numbers of these eye banks will be provided in the directory.
- Eye banks work 24/7 throughout the year. Their team will reach the deceased person at the earliest possible.
- There are few things you need to do until the team reaches the place. Keep a pillow and keep the head elevated, close the eyes and make sure eyes are not dried, keep a wet cloth on closed eyes. You can also keep ice cubes.
- Eye bank team will remove the eyes within 10 minutes without any disfiguring scar on the body.
It is important not only to pledge your eyes, but also to motivate others around you to pledge their eyes and help restore sight so blind people see this beautiful world once again.
S.G.M. Eye Bank & Research Foundation Trust founded in 1979, is the most active Eye Bank in entire North Karnataka. Housed within the premises of M.M. Joshi Eye Institute, Huballi, we spread awareness about eye donation and restore vision in corneal blind people.