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Eye Transplantation: How Can An Utterly Blind Person Get Benefit From It?

Can a blind person be benefitted from eye transplantation?

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : September 6, 2022 8:43 PM IST

National Eye Donation Fortnight is marked from August 25 to September 8. The objective is to create awareness about eye donation's importance and motivate people to pledge their eyes for donation after death. As per the National Health Portal of India, approximately 68 lakh people have corneal blindness in at least one eye; out of these, 10 lakh are blind in the country. To mark this fortnight, Thehealthsite's editorial team got in touch with Dr Manisha Acharya, Head, Cornea Services, Medical Director, Eye bank, and Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, New Delhi, to learn everything about eye transplantation.

1. What is an eye bank?

An eye bank is an institution working towards a mission of eye donations. They oversee collecting (harvesting), processing, and distributing donor corneas to qualified corneal graft surgeons. Eye banks may be housed in a hospital or a different facility; they are regulated and a part of the local healthcare system. The eye bank has a proper set-up to process the donated eyeballs, cornea and eye tissue; after that, some evaluations are done through blood tests. And if the donor is found fit for transplantation, they are allocated to a particular surgeon who is qualified to do a corneal transplant to perform the transplant surgery.

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2. What is the role of the eye bank?

1) Corneal transplantation- It is the best available therapeutic option with adequate access to the facility

2) Helps to provide good quality transplantable corneal tissue

3) Bridge the gap between rural-urban society

3. What are some functions of the eye bank?

The eye bank has five essential functions:

1. Raise awareness about eye donation

2. Collect the eyes and eyeballs from the donors

3. Process the eye tissues

4. Properly evaluate the donated eyes

5. Distribute the donor eye to the person in need while maintaining quality assurance

4. Who can donate eyes?

People who wear spectacles, have had cataract surgery, have diabetes, or have high blood pressure can donate their eyes. Aside from that, any average healthy person should make an eye donation pledge.

5. How has eye donation changed in the past few years in India?

  • Eye donation in India has changed dramatically in the last ten years. As a result, the attitude toward eye donation has shifted substantially. The HCRP has been critical to the success of eye banking in India. To increase the number of corneas available, the Eye Bank Association of India has launched the Hospital Corneal Retrieval Programme (HCRP), which aims to motivate and counsel relatives of a deceased person in the hospital about eye donation by educating them about corneal blindness and the benefits of corneal transplant.
  • Furthermore, counsellors at HCRP play a critical role in ensuring the success of eye banking in the country. The eye bank's technological advancements and state-of-the-art facilities have paved the way for greater accuracy and the use of more eye tissues with precision. In addition, many surgeries have been introduced in recent years that help to utilise some parts of the cornea; thus, one tissue can be used for more than one surgery.

6. How does eye banking help prevent avoidable blindness amongst marginalized and vulnerable communities?

Corneal blindness is the country's second most common cause of blindness, and the majority of cases are treatable. Corneal transplants are an excellent treatment option for patients who are corneally blind and unable to see. The chances of success of that transplant and retrieving the cornea are much higher, avoiding all rejection.

Eye donation helps change the lives of many blind patients.

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