Eye donation is a process where the cornea of an eye is removed from the body of a deceased person after obtaining consent of the relative(s) closest to him /her and transplanted in the eyes of patients blinded by corneal diseases.
The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye which actually appears as black of the eye. It is the main focusing element of the eye. The cornea of any person becomes cloudy and results in poor or no vision due to disease, injury, infection, Vitamin A deficiency or any other cause.
Eye donation is important because about one million people are blinded by corneal diseases in India. And about 25000 are added to this pool every year. But the number of eyes donated is around 12000 which leave us with increasing deficit of around 13000 eyes every year.
It is our responsibility as human beings not to deprive them of educational and vocational opportunities. Corneal transplant surgery restores sight and makes a big difference in the lives of these individuals. We need to create awareness among others by donating our eyes and sharing the idea to all.
Anyone can be an eye donor. Cataracts, poor eyesight or age do not prohibit you from becoming a donor. Prospective donors should indicate their intention on donor cards. It is important for individuals wanting to be donors to inform family members of their wishes to help ensure that their desires are fulfilled. This is because after death if the immediate family members resents, the surgery will not be done. Thus being a failure from the first place itself.
We can donate our eyes through eye banks. An Eye Bank is a non-profit organization which obtains, medically evaluates and distributes eyes donated by caring individuals for use in corneal transplantation. It is illegal to buy or sell human eyes, organs, and tissues. Any costs associated with eye procurement are absorbed by the eye bank placing the tissue.
Enucleation or removal of the eyeball of the donor eye should take place within 4- 6 hours of death. A corneal transplant is usually performed within 5 days after donation depending on the eye banking facilities.
There are no religious hindrances towards Donation as it is an opportunity to help save a life or restore someone’s sight. Eye donation is consistent with the beliefs and attitudes of major religions. Most religions preach the continuity of soul and not the body.
There is a misconception that after eye donation, it will change the appearance of the donor and make his eyes look sunken or bad. This is not true. Eye surgery does not change the appearance of a person. Great care is taken to preserve the donor’s appearance. Removal of eyeball is followed by the insertion of the artificial eye which restores the original look of the eye.
The gift of sight is made anonymously. Strict laws prohibit provision of specific information about the recipient available to the donor family and vice versa.