Published On : Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

Ophthalmology Deptt of GMCH observes Eye Donation Fortnight to create awareness

Eye Donations
: The Ophthalmology Department of Government Medical College and Hospital is observing an Eye Donation Fortnight. Many programmes have been envisaged to create awareness about Eye Donations.

A rally was planned on August 25, 2016.

There are around 4.5 crore blind persons in the world of whom 1/3rd i.e.1.5 crore are in India. Cases of Cataract form the highest, i.e. 62.4% of all instances of blindness worldwide. However since Cataract can be successfully treated with surgery, the percentage of blindness due to cataract is slowly coming down. Corneal blindness is another cause of preventable and treatable blindness worldwide and is the fourth leading cause of blindness worldwide after cataract, glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration, accounting for around 25% of the total blindness, Corneal Blindness is estimated to be the second most prevalent cause of unilateral blindness in India itself. About 25,000-30,000 new cases of Corneal Blindness are added every year to this number. Moreover, about 80% of overall blindness in India is found on those aged 50 years or more, whereas corneal blindness affects a younger population than other forms of blindness.

Furthermore, prevalence of Corneal Blindness is increasing every year due to causes like deficiency of Vitamin A in diet, injuries due to chemicals / occupation / accident, infections, congenital causes and in some cases even due to improper care post cataract surgery.

While prevention is the most desirable way to control corneal blindness, but once the cornea loses its transparency, keratoplasty remains the primary sight restoring procedure. Only 40% of bilateral corneal blindness is estimated to be treatable by Keratoplasty. Operating in high risk eyes, in developing world settings, often leads to a high rate of repeat Keratoplasty.

An estimated 1.5 Lac corneal transplants are required annually to clear all backlog cases. But in India the no. of eye donations is just about 35,000 per year and out of this only about 46% can be used for sight restoration as the remaining do not meet the standards for transplantation. As a result, the patient line-up and wait to get a corneal transplant keeps getting longer with each passing day.

Eye Donation
While there is no doubt that the rate of eye donations has picked up recently, the myths associated with eye donation is still holding back many from contributing to the cause. The lack of awareness about eye donation can be understood by the fact that around 75,00,000 deaths occur in India every year out of which approximately only 25000 people i.e. 0.3-0.4% of total deaths in India, actually donate their eyes.As per these stats it shows there is a lack of awareness about eye donation in India.

  • Number of blind persons in the world is 4.5 crore
  • Number of blind persons in India 1.5 crore
  • Number of Corneal blind persons in the world 85 lakh
  • Number of Corneal blind persons in India (waiting list) are around 30 lakhs out of which 2,70,000 are children
  • Number of eye donations in year in the US is around 50000
  • Number of eye donations in year in India (May 2015 to April 2016) is 35000
  • Number of eye donations in a year in Maharashtra (May 2015 to April 2016) is 4875
  • Maximum number of eye donations are in Tamil Nadu
  • Number of corneal transplantation surgeries (Keratoplasty) in Maharashtra (May 2015 to April 2016) is 1547
  • Number of eye donations in a year in Nagpur (May 2011 to April 2012) is 456
  • Number of corneal transplantation surgeries (Keratoplasty) in Nagpur (May 2015 to April 2016) is 100
  • Number of corneal transplantation surgeries in Government Medical College and Hospital, Nagpur (May 2015 to April 2016) is 32
  • Number of people on waiting list for corneal transplantation surgery in Nagpur at present (July 2016) is approximately 1050.

Relatives of the deceased have many misconceptions about eye donation like

  1. Lack of awareness about truth and facts.
  2. Traditional beliefs.
  3. Myths with eye donation and cultural stigma.
  4. Lack of motivation.

Solutions to tackle the above problems are as follows

  1. Increase awareness among people to donate their eyes. To increase mouth to mouth advertisement about eye donations, proper recognition should be given to the relatives of donors.
  2. Training is to be continued addressing the quality issues on cornea retrieval, evaluation, storage and distribution to the corneal surgeons.
  3. Upgrade skills of Ophthalmologists in corneal surgery so that corneas are optimally utilized.
  4. Sufficient facilities in the institutes and hospitals conducting corneal transplantation so that the corneas are used in a proper way.
  5. Artificial corneas are being developed for the purpose of corneal transplantation which is in research phase today.
  6. Establish an efficient three tier community eye banking system that would deliver required quantity and quality of corneas to the community.
  7. Registration of eye banks belonging to government institutions must not be mandatory.

This was informed by Professor and Head of the Ophthalmology Department, Government Medical College and Hospital, Dr Ashok Madan.