Eyes are one of the five important human sense organs. They are the only sense organs that can be donated. Eyes donated are used to treat corneal blindness (CB). The cornea is the black, clear and transparent layer covering the front surface of the eye. It acts as a window through which light enters the eye. Any conditions resulting in corneal damage lead to loss of vision or blindness. In India, among 15 million blind people, corneal blindness amounts to 6.8 million. Your voluntary pledge to donate your eyes can help these people with corneal blindness to get back their lost vision.
Here are five important things you need to know regarding eye donation:
Who can donate eyes?
Anybody above the age of one-year can donate eyes after his/her death. Any health related issues (diabetes, hypertension, asthma, tuberculosis) or issues related to eyes (short or long sightedness) is not a barrier to donate eyes.
Who cannot donate eyes?
A living individual cannot donate his/her eyes. Those who die due to food poisoning or drowning cannot donate. Further, people with a history of rabies, infectious hepatitis, tetanus, gangrene, cancer, brain tumour, syphilis, AIDS, septicaemia are not eligible to donate.
What is the procedure?
The family members of the deceased (who has consented to donate eyes) have to contact the nearest eye bank within next six hours. Once the information about donating eyes has been conveyed, a team from the eye bank comes to your home or to the hospital depending on the place where the death has occurred and collect the eyes. It would take approximately 20-25 minutes to remove the eyes of the deceased. The team will instruct you on the phone about the precautions to be taken till they arrive.
What are the precautions to be taken before donating eyes?
Certain precautions are required to facilitate eye extraction, which includes:
- The eyes of the deceased have to be closed and covered with moist cotton. The fans should be switched off.
- Antibiotic eye drops can often be applied to prevent eye infection.
- The head of the deceased should be raised above six inches to prevent chances of bleeding while removing the eyes.
- Keep the medical death certificate and the consent form signed by the deceased person, to donate the eyes ready. In case the consent form is not available, the kin can agree to donate on behalf of the deceased in the presence of two witnesses.
How to pledge your eyes?
Visit the nearest eye bank and fill a simple pledge form. You need to fill your name, age, sex, address, etc. in the pledge form. Two witnesses have to accompany you. On verification, you will receive a DONOR card which contains all details regarding the eye bank. Ensure you always carry the donor card or keep it in a place at home where your family members can access it. If you have a driving license, tick ‘yes’ to eye donation.
Enrolling with an eye bank is a formal step towards eye donation; it is the responsibility of the witnesses to inform the eye bank about the donor’s death which is more critical. In case the witness fails to inform, the next-of-kin can make the decision on behalf of the deceased person for donating eyes.
So, if you can be a reason for someone to see the world again, why to delay? Pledge to donate your eyes right now!
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- Eye Donation – Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.sankaranethralaya.org/eye-donation-faq.html. Sankara Nethralaya. Accessed on June 10, 2016.
- Eye donation. http://drishti.org.in/eye-donation-2/. Drishti. Accessed on June 10, 2016.