Eye donation – A gift of sight!

Eye donation is a noble act that enables a blind person to see once again. In this post, I’ll be telling you all that you need to know about #eyedonation.

Who can donate eyes?

Anyone can donate eyes. Eye donation is never refused.

Eyes collected from donors and are assessed in an eye bank. Eyes that are found fit for transplantation are used to restore vision to blind people. If not fit for clinical use, due to diseases such as cancer, AIDS, other communicable diseases, the eyes are used for research purposes.

When can eyes be donated?

Eyes donation has to be done within 4 to 6 hours of death.

Can a living person donate eyes?

No. As per the law, a living person may not donate his or her eyes.

Eye donation is carried out only after the death of a person.

Whose consent is required for eye donation?

A person may pledge for eye donation to an eye bank before his death. After death, the immediate family members have the right to allow or refuse eye donation.

Once the next kin consents to the donation, he/she will have to sign a written consent in the presence of two witnesses who will then countersign the consent form.

What is the procedure for eye donation?

If the deceased person has already pledged his eyes to a particular eye bank, the eye bank may be contacted to collect the eyes.

If there is no prior pledge and the family members want to donate the eyes of the deceased, they may contact the nearest eye bank or dial the National Eye Donation helpline number 1919.

Once the eye bank is notified, a team of professionals including a doctor will be sent to the donor’s address.

Before the team arrives, it is advised that the eyes of the deceased should be closed and the fans be switched off to prevent drying of the eyes. Air conditioner, if available, should be turned on. You also could keep moist cotton over the donor’s eyes. Keep the death certificate ready to speed up the paperwork and prove accurate directions so that the team can reach as early as possible.

Once the team arrives, the doctor will explain the entire procedure and take written consent of the family members.

After the consent is given, the medical team will harvest the eyes. Only a registered medical practitioner is authorized to remove the eyes of the deceased person. A small amount of blood sample will also be drawn to rule out communicable diseases. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes.

Does donating eyes disfigure the face of the donor?

No. Only the cornea of the donor is taken and eyelids are closed. There is no change in the appearance of the deceased after the eyes are removed.

What happens once the donated eyes reach the eye bank?

The donated eyes are evaluated to know whether they are suitable for transplant. If found suitable, a transplant surgery is planned usually within 48 hours of donation.

Eye hospitals have a waiting list of blind people who need eye donation. As soon as an eye donation is received, people from the waiting list are contacted and called for surgery.

The transplantation process is usually completed within 72 hours.

Will the donor’s family be informed who received the donated eyes?

No. The law requires eye banks and hospitals to maintain complete confidentiality. Neither will the recipient know the details of the donor, nor will the donor be informed about the details of the recipient.

Can people who have had eye surgeries or those who wear glasses, donate their eyes?

Yes. People who wear glasses, have had eye surgeries in the past or have other eye diseases with poor vision can also donate eyes.

Are there any costs involved with donation?

No, donated eyes are neither bought nor sold.

The recipient may be charged for processing and storage costs of the donated eyes but not for the eyes as such.

Which part of the eye is transplanted?

Only the “cornea” that is the clear part of the eyes is transplanted.

Is blood group or genetic matching required for eye transplant?

No. The cornea is an avascular structure, that has no blood supply. Therefore unlike transplantation of other organs, cornea does not need blood group or genetic matching before transplantation.

How long can donated eyes be stored?

Donated eyes are usually transplanted to the needy patients within 72 hours.

However if they need to be stored, they can be stored up to 14 days using special techniques.

In India, we have 4.6 million blind people who can benefit from eye donation. But the number of eyes donated are far less.

Therefore I request you and your family members to pledge eye donation and help a blind person see the beauty of the world once again!

If you have any queries, feel free to drop in a comment or email me at neha.pednekar1489@gmail.com

I’ll see you soon in my next blog, till then take good care of your eyes and stay healthy!

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