"Though India has about 95,00,000 deaths every year, only 10,000 people donated their eyes in a year, at last count."
Pledge to donate your eyes.
There is a misconception that the process involves unnecessary hassles like taking the person to the hospital and waiting for procedures and/or even paying for them. Many are unaware that the doctors come home and do it within hours and all free of cost.
There are also many superstititions and strange beliefs to contend with in India, especially in rural areas: one will be born disfigured or blind in the next birth if eyes are removed before cremation/burial or there is scarring/disfigurement and this mars the sanctity of the last rites. All this also probably explains why India imports a large number of corneas from Sri Lanka where eye donation is considered sacred.
-There are an estimated 12 million blind people in India of whom three million suffer corneal blindness, which means their vision can be restored with donor eyes.
-Every time one person donates his or her eyes, it gives sight to two blind people since each eye is given to one person.
-Almost everyone can donate eyes. Even those who wear spectacles, with high B.P., diabetics, or even systemic disorders like asthma, tuberculosis, or undergone cataract surgery can donate eyes. The only criterion is a healthy and clear cornea.
-Although the entire eye is removed from the body, it is only the cornea that can be transplanted. Usually artificial or plastic eyes are put in the socket of the dead and eyelids stitched together to restore normal appearance of the face.
-A person can pledge to donate his eyes after death by filling and signing the forms available at the nearest eye bank and deposit it with the bank (Or print it here. Lower part of the page. And send it to the national eye bank). Donor cards will be issued to those who pledge their eyes. The person who pledges to donate his eyes after death should inform his family members, friends and family doctor of the same.
-The next of kin can also donate the eyes of a dead person who had not pledged his eyes. However, the eyes cannot be removed without the consent of the kin even if the deceased had already pledged his eyes.
-The cornea has to be removed within six hours after death but it would be better if it is removed before three hours in view of the humid climate in India. The removal takes 10 to 15 minutes. The cornea is stored in an eye bank for transplantation to a needy person. The collected eyes can be stored upto 72 hours in an ordinary refrigerator, and up to a few months in chemical preservatives and even up to two years in freezing temperatures.
-The first eye bank in India was set up in Chennai in 1945. Today there are over 150 eye banks in the country.
-The identity of both the recipient and the donor is kept a secret.
-There is no payment or money involved for donor or for the recipient for the corneal transplantation i.e., there is no payment for the eye or cornea. (However, the recipient may have to pay for the operation charges).
-The donor does not have to be taken anywhere. The eye-bank team will come wherever the donor is, at no cost.
-In the event of death of the individual the relatives / kin are required to inform the nearest eye bank or the physician taking care of the individual about his wish of donating his eyes. Eyes have to be harvested within six hours of death. Till then, switch off fans, keep the air conditioner or cooler running and place wet cotton with ice over the closed eyelids. It will help keep the tissue moist. Raise the head with a pillow. Sign a consent form before the eyes can be removed.