Eye Donation

Myths of Eye Donation

The Gift of Sight: Dispelling the Myths of Eye Donation

Brinda P Ramachandran, Assistant Director – Ramayamma International Eye Bank, L V Prasad Eye Institute

Blindness is caused by various factors. Only some conditions are treatable. Corneal blindness is one of the most common causes of treatable blindness in India afflicting over 2 million people. The only treatment option available for corneal blindness is transplantation of donor corneas that are obtained through eye donation, upon a person’s death. Eye donation or Cornea donation offers hope to many.

Despite the occurrence of innumerable deaths in a year in India, only a few get the chance to see the world with someone’s eyes. According to Eye Bank Association of India (EBAI) as against the requirement of 100,000 corneas in a year, the Eye Banks in the country collect only 37,000. The need for donated eyes far exceeds the availability of donations. Even while people wait, hope and pray for such a gift, the greatest impediment to the shortage of corneas is low awareness among people and myths surrounding eye donation. The following are some points for discussion.

  1. Disfigurement: There is a general belief that when one donates his/her eyes the face gets disfigured, but in reality as only the cornea is removed during eye donation, the eye is intact and there is no disfigurement.
  2. Extracting corneas from the deceased will cause them to be born blind in the next birth: This belief is deterrent to widespread acceptance of the concept of eye donation. The story of Bhaktha Kannappa in Hindu mythology should dispel myths existing among certain religious sects that enucleation causes the deceased to be born blind in the next birth.
  3. Anyone can donate: Some of the lesser known facts of eye donation are that even people with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, or persons wearing spectacles and who had undergone cataract surgery can also donate eyes.
  4. Anyone can donate: Some of the lesser known facts of eye donation are that even people with diabetes, asthma, hypertension, or persons wearing spectacles and who had undergone cataract surgery can also donate eyes.

Our neighboring country Sri Lanka has set an example by being one of the world’s largest human eye donor countries restoring vision to people in as many as 57 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Egypt and China. Sri Lankans attribute the success of eye donation in their country to the supreme Buddhist concept of daana or almsgiving.

The solution for eliminating corneal blindness lies in our hands. We have the power to give the “Gift of Sight” to people. With over 2 million people suffering from reversible corneal

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