Eye Donation

Organ transplantation has been the major beneficiary of the recent development in biotechnology; cornea by virtue of its avascularity is the most successful among all forms of organ transplantation. Corneal blindness over time has become major cause of treatable blindness, ironically the impact of shortage of donor corneas is most glaring in the developing countries. Collection of donor eyes therefore becomes priority in any organized effort to alleviate needless scourge of blindness.

Background and Rationale: Out of 15 million blind in India, Corneal blindness is estimated to the tune of 2.5 million. The main scope is in the line of eye donations. At present approximately 35,000 corneas are collected in the country every year, whereas 150,000 are required annually to combat corneal blindness. As a result, the patient line-up and wait to get a corneal transplant keeps getting longer with each passing day. Furthermore, the cost of cornea transplant in addition to unavailability for corneas makes it practically impossible for underprivileged people to access these medical remedies.

Till recently all national health policies targeted cataract, which accounts for 80% of the needless blindness. On the other hand Corneal blindness mainly affecting young population, deprives productive health years and country's economy also. There is a need for organizations and individuals to come forward and work towards promotion of eye donations, and procurement of eyes, so as to address this need.

Facts and Myths about Donating Eyes

Myth - Eyes can be removed out of living human beings.

Fact - Eyes are removed only after death.

Myth - Eyes can be donated even by a live person.

Fact - Eyes can only be pledged by a live person. Eyes can be donated only after death.

Myth - Removal of eyes causes disfigurement of the face.

Fact - Removal of eyes does not produce any disfigurement of the face.

Myth - Eye donation interferes with, or delays customary final rites.

Fact - Eye donation does not interfere with or delay final rites, as the corneal excision procedure takes less than 20 minutes.

Myth - Eyes of aged donors are not acceptable.

Fact - All donor eyes are acceptable irrespective of the donor’s age, including eyes of premature/ still-born babies.

Myth - Indian eyes are not good to be used for corneal transplantation.

Fact - Eyes of any deceased person anywhere in the world can be used for corneal transplantation following evaluation.

Myth - An entire eye can be transplanted.

Fact - Only the cornea is used for transplantation.

Myth - Corneal transplantation is an experimental procedure.

Fact - Corneal transplantation is a proven, routinely performed surgery and is a successful procedure.

Myth - Corneal transplantation is not effective and successful in Indian eyes.

Fact - Corneal transplantation is effective in all eyes, if performed under optimal conditions.

Myth - Human eyes can be bought or sold.

Fact - Selling or buying of human eyes is illegal.

Myth - Only those who have pledged their eyes can donate them after death.

Fact - Pledging of eyes is not important, because even in the case of a pledgee, the consent of the family member is essential, without which an eye cannot be removed.

Legal Issues

Eye Act 1982 & Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994

  • If any donor had in writing and in presence of 2 witness ,authorized the removal of his / her organs after death for therapeutic purposes, person lawfully in possession of dead body shall allow removal of organ unless donor had subsequently revoked aforesaid authority.
  • Person lawfully in possession of dead body may authorize removal of any human organ, unless any near relative of deceased person has objection.
  • In case of an unclaimed dead body lying in hospital or prison, authority for removal of cornea can be given by the person in charge 1/2 hr later where facility of cold storage is not available &2hrs after death if cold storage is present.
  • If any donor authorizes his organ transplanted into body of a recipient ,not being a near relative, it should be approved by authorization committee. However if near relative is present, no approval required.
  • Removal shall be done by RMP (registered medical practitioner)
  • The RMP shall satisfy himself before removal of any organ that life is extinct in such body
  • Eyes can be removed at any place from the dead body of any donor by a RMP Irrespective of registration of hospital.
  • Penalties for Removal without authority a
    • Imprisonment- 5yrs & fine Rs. Ten Thousand
    • Removal of name from state medical council for 2yrs & if Repeated permanent removal
Who Can Donate?
  • Any Body can Donate
  • No Age Bar
  • Patients with High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetic Patients
  • Patients with Asthma
  • Those who have undergone Eye surgery/Systemic Surgery
Who Cannot Donate?

The persons affected by the following diseases cannot donate their eyes. The eyes are tested for these diseases before they are used for transplant and eliminated if found affected by any of these.
  • AIDS
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Septicemia
General Instructions
  • Get death certificate from treating surgeon
  • Inform immediately to the nearest eye bank of the death of donor.
  • Switch off fan / Ac
  • Close the eyelid immediately after death
  • Ice packs can be put on closed eyelid
  • Keep body in cooler place
  • Raise head with pillow

Videos

Cornea Transplant
Project 'Vision' seeks to make Bangalore the eye-donation capital