More than three million await corneal transplantation in India alone. With the demand outstripping the supply across the country, the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) has intensified its eye donation campaign. Under the ongoing National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), the ophthalmology department has organised various educational and awareness events. These will go on till September 8.
Head of the ophthalmology wing, Bhaskar Khaire, said, "The GMCH has been organising a eye donation fortnight since the last 15 years. An exhibition has also been organised to educate patients and their relatives. Around 150 patients visit every day for eye treatment."
Khaire said, "India is known as the 'Blind Capital of the World'. Only 4,000 corneal transplantation surgeries are done every year. The cornea supply is abysmally low compared to the demand. I urge people to pledge their eyes so that the deserving and needy are able to see."
He pointed out that there were nearly 300-400 deaths every month in Aurangabad, but eye donations accounted for just 3-4% of them. "People are still not aware of the need to donate eyes. The GMCH has collected only 45 eyeballs in the last three years," he said.
"Including Maharashtra's annual requirement of 10,000 eyeballs per year for meeting the objective of blindness control under NPCB, the other major problems that patients face are reflective error problem, cataract, glaucoma and corneal opacity. Awareness among people needs to grow in a way it has grown in Sri Lanka, which is the leading country in eye donations," said Khaire.
Regarding corneal transplant, Khaire said that the eye bank at the GMCH is the only leading bank which is successfully doing about 20-30 keratoplasty (corneal transplant) every year.
"The objective of the eye donation fortnight is to create mass awareness and to bridge the gap between demand and supply of cornea. The fortnight is being organised at mass level to motivate people. People should make eye donation a family tradition. Even the relatives of the deceased can sign the consent letter to facilitate eye donation," said Khaire.
"It is important to preserve the eyes within four hours of the donor's death. Eye banks should be alerted immediately.
Social organisations have the responsibility to alert the eye banks, relatives of the deceased and provide all assistance to the medical teams," he said.BOX
The GMCH, which is observing its eye donation fortnight till September 8, is hoping that more residents pledge their eyes. The pledge form is available at the GMCH. Residents can also contact on 9422933225 or 0240-240242.
Facts about eye donation
Anyone can pledge their eyes irrespective of age
Those who have undergone eye surgery or wear lenses can also donate eyes
Eyes of the deceased can be donated by family even if the person had not pledged the same
Corneas are to be collected within six hours of death
The process takes only 10 to 15 minutes, is simple and does not lead to any disfigurement
Eyes are used for corneal transplant within 72 hours
With special storage media, eyes can be stored for a longer time before being transplanted
Donated corneas are transplanted following the waiting list
The pledge can be made at any eye bank
Eye donation is never refused
One donation gives sight to two blind persons. The hospital does not levy any charge for the donor cornea but only for the surgical procedure
Person with AIDS, rabies, hepatitis cannot donate eyes