This topic provides information related to eye donation.
In India, we have an estimated 4.6 million people with corneal blindness that is curable through corneal transplantation made possible by eye donation.
The cornea is the clear surface at the front of the eye and is the main focusing element. When the cornea becomes cloudy from disease, injury, infection or any other cause, vision will be drastically reduced. Cornea transplant is the surgical procedure which replaces a disc-shaped segment of an impaired cornea with a similarly shaped piece of a healthy donor cornea. More than 90% of the corneal transplantation is carried out successfully and helps restore vision in people with corneal blindness. Corneal transplantation in infants born with cloudy cornea can make a big difference to their lives.
Facts about eye donation
- Eyes can be donated only after death.
- Eyes must be removed within 4 - 6 hours after death.
- Eyes can be removed by a registered medical practitioner only.
- The eye bank team will visit the home of the deceased or the hospital to remove the eyes.
- Eye removal does not delay the funeral since the entire procedure takes 20-30 minutes only.
- A small quantity of blood will be drawn to rule out communicable diseases.
- Eye retrieval does not cause disfigurement.
- Religions are for eye donation.
- The identities of both the donor and the recipient are kept confidential.
Who can donate eyes?
Eye donors could be of any age group or sex. People who use spectacles, diabetics, patients with high blood pressure, asthma patients and those without communicable diseases can donate eyes.
Persons with AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Rabies, Septicaemia, Acute leukemia (Blood cancer), Tetanus, Cholera, and infectious diseases like Meningitis and Encephalitis cannot donate eyes.
When does the donation take place?
The surgical removal of the eye tissue is performed soon after death, ensuring the tissue is in the best possible condition for transplant. This also makes sure that the funeral arrangements are not delayed in any way. Because the removal causes no disfiguration, an open casket is still an option for the donor family.
How soon after donation must a cornea be transplanted?
Cornea transplant is usually performed within 4 days after donation, depending upon the method of cornea preservation.
Will the donor's family pay or receive any fees?
No. It is illegal to buy and sell human eyes, organs and tissues. Any cost associated with eye procurement are absorbed by the eye bank.
How can a person become a donor?
The most important action a person can take is to tell his/her family and legal representative. Most states now require that families be offered the option of donation when a loved one dies. Families may give consent for donation. It is most helpful if they know in advance that s/he would like to donate his/her eyes. A donor card can serve as an indication to the family / legal representative and hospitals of one's intention to be an eye donor.
For relatives of the deceased
To donate eyes, the following procedures should be done by the relatives of the deceased
- Close the eye lids of the deceased.
- Switch off the fan if any, directly over the deceased person.
- Raise the head of the deceased slightly by placing a pillow underneath.
- Contact the nearest eye bank as quickly as possible.
- Give the correct address with specific landmarks and telephone number to enable the eye bank team locate the place easily.
- If the death certificate from the physician is available, keep it ready.
- Eye donation can be done only with the written consent of the next of kin in the presence of two witnesses.
After eye donation
- The donor’s family receives a certificate of appreciation from the eye bank.
- The eyes are taken to the eye bank and evaluated by a trained eye bank staff.
- Tests are carried out and the tissue is sent to the corneal surgeon.
- The waiting list is referred and the recipient is called for corneal transplant.
- Corneal transplant is performed.
- Periodic follow-up of the recipient is done over time to ensure that the graft is successful.
Services of the eye bank
- Availability of trained staff round the clock to attend the calls.
- Evaluate and provide quality corneas to corneal surgeons.
- Enable corneal research using eyes unsuitable for grafts, to find newer techniques, improve preservation methods and train corneal surgeons.
- Increase public awareness on eye donation and eye banking.
- Train doctors in eye removal procedures.
- Develop and establish a network of eye donation centres.