AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD BRIGHT
MIMER Medical College
He opens his eyes and all he sees is darkness. He knows there’s a familiar face around, but will never know for sure. He can feel the warmth of a hug, but cannot put a face to it, and maybe never will. All his life, he has felt and heard rather than seen. He has heard stories of colors appearing in the sky, he knows about the Festival of Lights, has seen the burst of light and loud sounds when a cracker goes off but never knows what it is, how it looks. This is not fiction, it is the story of nearly 15 million people in India, 6.8 million o whom can have their blindness reversed. How you ask? All thanks to the last donation a person makes to the living world before he crosses to the other side.
Eye donation for all the benefits to the recipient is surprisingly not talked about often. Often people with good intentions are unable to donate their eyes because they don’t know the proper procedures to do the same. Today, in this article we are going to break down the basics of eye donation and open your eyes to a whole world of possibilities.
So let’s start with the easiest question: I wear spectacles every day, can I still donate my eyes? Good news is, you can! Even if you have spectacles, had a cataract surgery in the past, have diabetic retinopathy or hypertension, you still can donate your eyes. The only time a person cannot is if it is a case of drowning, gangrene, rabies, tetanus, AIDS, jaundice or of course if they are blind.
Next question: what exactly is taken at a time of eye donation, who is benefited from it, will there be a disfigurement in the donor? This question also, can be easily answered. When a person agrees to donate his eyes after death, the relatives must inform the doctors immediately. The eyeball must be removed from the body by the surgeon within six hours of death, to make sure that the cornea remains intact and does not start becoming opaque. This is especially important because it is this very part that is used to cure a person’s blindness. Further, the relatives must keep the person’s eyes moist to prevent the cornea from drying out till the eye surgeon arrives. It is interesting to note that not all blindness can be cured with a donor’s eyes. Only corneal blindness (which affect 6.8 million people in India alone) can be treated with a donor’s cornea. However, one donor can gift sight to two blind people, so not one but two people are going to benefit from your altruism. When the eye surgeon takes the eyeball from the donor, they make sure to stitch the eyelids together so that there is no visible disfigurement seen.
Although there may be slight bleeding at the time of removing the eyeball, the surgeons are trained to not cause gross trauma to the donor and to respect the relatives’ wishes. The eyeball that is excised is stored at the eye bank till further use. While corneas can be stored for fourteen days till they must be used for transplant, they are often used within three days of donation due to the extremely high demand. The remaining eye is used for research and training and tissues that are not useful at all are disposed in an ethical manner.
And for the last question, will my religion allow me to donate my eyes? No religion is against eye donation. And anyway in the end, the decision is in your hands and you can always contact your religious leader if you still are in doubt. However, the biggest question at the end of the day is do you want to help not one, but two blind people see the world? All they want is to see is their loved ones smiling at them, to see the colours of the sunset, see the light show at the Vrindavan Gardens, to see
the smile on a child’s face, to have what was taken from them unfairly and to live a life of colours.
In conclusion, all we’d like to say that: we live in a dark world, let’s make our small contribution to change that.