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It is difficult to imagine what life would be like if we couldn't see the world around us. But that's the way 12 million people in our country live their lives every day.
That's why, on the occasion of National Eye Donation Fortnight (25th Aug - 8th Sep), we created something special for you.
Put on your earphones, watch the video below, and prepare to have an experience that will change the way you look at everything.
Are you wondering where to go to pledge your eyes? Or if it has any religious implications?
Don't worry. We have put together an entire guide for you to answer all your burning questions.
So let's dive in.
1. Can everyone pledge to donate their eyes?
Yes! Anyone can donate their eyes.
There are no restrictions based on age, gender, or race. Even those who wear glasses and have had cataract surgery in the past can donate.
And though there are certain health conditions and diseases that disqualify a donor's eyes, it is not so for those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, or asthma.
2. What disqualifies a donor?
If the person was suffering from any communicable disease they can't donate their eyes. This includes AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Rabies, Septicemia, Acute Leukemia, Tetanus, Meningitis, cholera, and encephalitis.
3. Can a family member donate someone's eyes after their death?
Yes. They can. Provided they notify the nearest eye bank immediately so that the eyeballs can be retrieved immediately, and also take steps to preserve the eyes until the medical team can arrive.
4. What can we do to preserve the eyes immediately after death?
Close the deceased person's eyes and place moist cotton over them.
Place a pillow under their head to decrease bleeding at the time of removal.
Place ice cubes in a polythene packet and then place it over the forehead.
Use antibiotic drops, if available, to keep infection out of the eyeballs.
5. Is there a time frame for eyeball recovery for donation after death?
Yes. The rule of thumb is to retrieve the organs as fast as possible after death. And though individual eye banks can set their time limits, on an average 4 - 6 hours is the optimal time for recovery.
This time limit can be extended to 8 - 12 hours if the body is preserved in a cold chamber. But in such cases, the eyes tend to expire usability within 7 days.
6. How long can eyeballs be stored after donation?
Eye banks have the capacity to store eyeballs up to 14 days after retrieval from the donor. But because the waiting list of recipients is very long, the tissues are used up within 3 - 4 days after donation.
7. Does eye donation interfere with the funeralproceedings?
No. It usually takes only 15 - 20 minutes to retrieve the eyeballs and collect blood samples to rule out communicable diseases.
Also, eye donation does not cause facial disfigurement, so you can even have an open casket funeral.
8. Does any religion prohibit organ donation?
Other than Gypsies, who believe the soul needs the body to remain intact for at least 1 year after death, and the Shinto religion of Japan, who believe that dead bodies have power and must not be tampered with, all other religions are supportive of organ donation.
In fact, there is overwhelming support for donation in all the major religions of the world, including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
9. Is the whole eye used for transplantation in a blind recipient?
No. Only the cornea of the eye is used for transplantation because most other causes of blindness are irreparable.
10. Is there any such thing as an artificial cornea?
While there is a device called a keratoprosthesis (mainly used in the US as an artificial cornea), it is not very widely used because it is an extremely difficult procedure and has severe limitations.
Furthermore, the device is only recommended for patients who have severely damaged corneas due to birth defects, infections, injuries, and burns, including heavy scarring of the surrounding eye socket and lids, which prevent natural transplants from taking up.
11. So if only the cornea is used, what happens to the rest of the eye tissue?
The remaining tissues are used for researching new techniques for transplantation and for coming up with better alternatives to the present treatment protocols for glaucoma, cataract, and other diseases of the retina.
12. Will the recipient know the details ofthe donor?
No. The donor's demographics and personal details are never shared with the recipient. But the recipient's can send thank-you notes to the donor's family through the eye bank personnel.
13. How much does it cost to donate eyes?
Eye donation is done out of the generosity of the donor's heart.
14. Can a living person donate his eyes?
No. Eye donations can be done only after death. This is to prevent medical scams and illegal donations.
15. I have cancer. Can I donate my eyes after my death?
Not if the cancer originated in the eyes or spread to it through metastasis.
16. I had lasik done to get rid of my glasses. Can I donate my eyes?
Yes. You can donate. But only for research purposes.
This is because any corneal surgery (except for cataract) increases the chance of transplant failure drastically. So eyeballs of such kind are not used for correcting corneal blindness.
17. What is the success rate of corneal transplantation?
The success rate depends on the type of corneal abnormality that led to blindness. And it is measured based on the clarity of the transplanted cornea at intervals of 1, 2, and 5 years.
If it is keratoconus or corneal dystrophy, then the success rate is 98% in the first year and 90% in 5 years. But on an average, the success rate if 80 - 90% in the first year and 70 -75% in 5 years.
Unfortunately, people suffering from peripheral corneal abnormalities have a hard time with transplants since their unique condition increases the rate of transplant rejection.
18. Who should I contact to donate my eyes?
Signing up for eye donation takes only two minutes. So if you want to donate for this noble cause, we have got a list prepped up just for you:-
- Eye Bank Association of India
- Donate Eyes India
- Mohan Foundation
- National Eye Bank - AIIMS
- Nayana Jyothi Trust
I signed up to donate my eyes.
If yes, leave a comment below and write "I signed up!".
And don't just stop there. Share this article with your friends and family and help them make this world a better place too.