At present, above 1,500 visually impaired people are waiting for their turn for cornea transplantation at the Advanced Eye Centre(AEC), PGI. There is a glaring gap between the number of donors and recipients in the city, the common reason behind which is little awareness about eye donation. As many as 1,525 corneal blind patients are in the waiting list of AEC. Per year about 350 eye donations take place, however, the required number should be at least 1,000 donations per year.
Corneal blindness is a fourth leading cause of blindness globally. It is a visual impairment that occurs from the cornea becoming clouded, scarred or any other infection that ultimately affects the transparency of cornea, making a person blind. Some of the common causes are deficiency of Vitamin A, some viral, fungal or bacterial infections, congenital disease or any eye trauma.
The treatment is the surgery by graft of cornea, but because of lack of donors, thousands of people remain blind. “Every year, about 4000 people take a pledge to support eye donation, but a lot more needs to be done. People who take pledge, should first convince their family members about the same and they should also spread the message about the noble cause,” Dr Amit Gupta, Ophthalmologist said.
So far in PGI a total of 60,000 people have pledged to donate their eyes after death, but the situation on ground is completely different.
Though the number of donations have slightly increased in the last few years, but it is still very less. In 2011 total of 320 eyes were donated, the next year in 2012 , the number of donations rose to 338, however it declined to 318 during last year. This year, 192 eyes have been received by the eye bank. Daily about ten deaths are reported in PGI, but hardly any family comes forward to donate the much needed organ.
“My job is to make aware the family members of the deceased about the noble cause of eye donation and ask for their consent. Daily, I come across about ten such cases, however, rarely someone agrees. At times, I do not get any confirmation for a week,” said Amritpal Singh, a counsellor at AEC, PGI.
He is doing the job of a counselor since 1977 and shares that though the attitude of people has changed but not to a great extent. “Initially, people used to think that I have some personal motive and they would manhandle me and doctors also. However, with awareness such incidents have reduced. Now people refuse in a more polite way,” he added.
For eye donation at PGI: 9855464464 ; 9814014464