We have often heard the phrase- ” light of the eyes”. Unfortunately, for some, this light has been extinguished long ago. Yes, 39 million people in the world have lost this light of both happiness and vision. The WHO estimates that 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. Of this, 82% are 50 years and older. Nearly 200,000 children are born blind due to cataract.
All these statistics might sound alarming but they alert us to the dire need to increase the need for elderly eye care and the necessity for eye donation. With the National Eye Donation Fortnight Day being celebrated from Aug 25 – 8 September, it is time for us to create eye donation awareness among one and all.
Eye donation awareness among elders – some facts to know.
Elders are often under the misconception that since they are aged, their eyes are weak and hence they cannot donate their eyes. But this is not so. Here are some facts on eye donation awareness that elders need to know.
- A person of any age above 1 can donate his/her eyes.
- Even elders having diabetes, hypertension, asthma or TB can donate their eyes.
- Even patients wearing spectacles or those with glaucoma, cataract or retinal detachments can donate their eyes.
- Only patients with jaundice, AIDS, brain tumour, rabies, gangrene or septicemia cannot donate their eyes.
- The only case where eye donation is impossible is from a person dead from drowning.
- Eye donation involves only corneal implantation. The Cornea is the transparent portion or clear tissue of the eye responsible for focussing the eye. During eye donation, only the cornea is removed from the deceased person and replaced with a plastic shield.
- Eye donation is possible only after the death of a person.
- Eyes should be donated within 6 hours of the death of the person.
- Since the cornea is replaced by a plastic shield, there is no disfigurement in the deceased person.
- All religions are founded on humanity and hence support eye donation.
Maintaining eye conditions in the elderly to promote eye donation.
According to AIIMS, nearly 2.5 lakh blind persons in India can regain eyesight if the majority of the hospitals in India start conducting eye transplant surgery efficiently. Most ophthalmologists feel that nearly 60% of the donated eyes are wasted in India due to improper maintenance of the eye conditions of the elderly who are diseased.
The following are the factors that lead to wastage of donated eyes.
- Donated eyes not reaching the eye bank or hospital on time i.e. within 6 hours of the deceased.
- Eyes becoming infected after the person is dead.
- Harvested eyes should be implanted within 24 hours for the other patient. Otherwise, it can be stored for 14 days under proper conditions in an eye bank. So families of the eye donors must work towards ensuring that the donated eyes reach the eye bank or hospital on time, within 6 hours.
How to prevent wastage of donated eyes?
Donated eyes are precious and must be used for the intended purpose of restoring vision to the needy. Wastage of donated eyes can be prevented by ensuring proper eye conditions of the elderly who are deceased by undertaking these simple steps.
- Switch off the fans above the deceased person and switch on an Ac if available.
- Raise the head of the person by placing a pillow underneath.
- Cover the eyes of the deceased with a wet cloth to keep them moist.
- If possible, apply some antiseptic eye drops to prevent infection.
- Keep a copy of the death certificate ready.
All elders can find both peace and purpose in donating their eyes. Nearly 3 million people with corneal blindness can gain both light and life through your eye donation.