Can you believe that out of every 150 citizens of our country, one is affected by corneal blindness? Most of the victims are children and economically deprived people. Several of these patients can be cured completely if they can get a corneal transplant, says Dr. Aditya Kelkar from the National Institute of Ophthalmology, Pune. While awareness on eye donation is increasing, there is still a very large gap between the number of needy patients and donors. Of the one million deaths in the country last year, only 42000 had opted for eye donation. What is required is education to people on what entails eye donation and simultaneously making suitable provisions in the law so that people also find it easy to pledge their eyes after death.
Dr. Aditya Kelkar throws light on some of the important facts related to eye donation and points out how easy the noble deed of eye donation is. Firstly eyes can be donated by any person regardless of age and even weak eyesight. Only minors (below 18 years) need the consent of their parents or guardians. All major religions have given their approval and support to the cause of eye donation.
Since eyes are donated after death, the family and close relatives of the deceased may understandably have emotional issues and prejudices about removing the cornea of their loved ones. However Dr. Kelkar assures that it does not lead to any disfigurement nor does it interfere with the customary funeral rituals.
He advises that if the deceased person has pledged their eyes, the family should take the following steps to honor the wish of the departed – Close the eyes of the deceased, switch off the fans in the room and switch the AC on if possible. Place wet cotton balls on the eyes and immediately call the doctor as the cornea needs to be removed within 3 to 4 hours after death.
Eye donation is the need of the hour and can help bring back the vision of millions of patients who are living in darkness. Following the Mumbai and Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s Health Department has now included the eye donation pledge column in the medical certificate for the cause of death (MCCD) issued by it. The inclusion of the column will give the kin of the deceased the right to voluntarily donate the cornea of the dead to the eye bank.