World Sight Day: More Prateekshas wait for cornea transplant

Doctors say cornea donation needs to be stepped up through awareness

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Published: October 12, 2012 3:02 am

Doctors say cornea donation needs to be stepped up through awareness

Prateeksha Agunde was born with congenital corneal blindness and her parents,poor farm labourers from Satara could not afford expensive treatment. A routine eye screening camp at the Zilla Parishad school led the authorities to treat her free of cost at the H V Desai Eye Hospital where a corneal transplant was performed recently.

After eight years of blindness, Prateeksha could finally see. One of her eyes has sight restored. “When my daughter opened her eyes and said she could see,our joy was unimaginable,” Seema Agunde said. Prateeksha (the name coincidentally means a wait) is now waiting for the next corneal transplant.

It has been planned next year but the wait is equally long for several patients,says N P Pandya,founder of the H V Desai Eye Hospital.

October 11 is the World Sight Day and the statistics of the blind are alarming. There are 12 million blind in the country. There is a need for at least four lakh corneas to be donated annually. The collection is a mere 40-50,000 and the challenge is to combat the deficit by encouraging eye donations. World Sight Day is a day for creating awareness on blindness visual impairment and stressing rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

It is also the main advocacy event for blindness prevention and for Vision 2020 – the right to sight – a global effort to prevent blindness by WHO and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness.

Cornea consultant Dr Shilpa Joshi says there is a huge waiting list and H V Desai Eye Bank is among the top of the list in the city and collects 600 corneas annually. In the last couple of years a total of 1,200 corneal transplants have been done. According to Pandya,Vision 2020 is aimed at providing sight to the visually handicapped. Diabetes is yet another problem that leads to blindness and several measures have to be taken to tackle blindness associated with the disease.

District ophthalmic surgeon Dr Dnyandeo Khemkar said there is a requirement of 1,300-1,400 corneas every year. On Thursday,several diagnostic eye camps were conducted across the district. The aim is also to avoid causes of preventable blindness like cataract. In Pune the annual target is to conduct one lakh cataract operations with the help of the private sector.

According to Dr Salil Gadkari,Secretary Maharashtra Opthlamological Society,there is a need to create awareness on diabetic retinal disease. Early detection can help treat and prevent severe visual loss,he said.

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