What is eye donation? Eye donation is an act of charity for the benefit of the society and is totally voluntary. Eyes that are donated are made use of after the person's death. The eye donation of the deceased can be authorised by the next of kin even if the deceased did not pledge his/her eyes before death. How can one donate eyes? Eyes are removed only after a person's demise. Persons wishing to donate eyes should inform family members about their intention. After the demise of the person family members can inform the nearest eye bank to fulfill the wishes of the deceased or authorise removal of the eyes if somebody from an eye bank approaches the family. How do I contact an eye bank? A special number 1919 (B.S.N.L.) has been allotted to eye banks. Most eye banks in India have been allotted this number. On receiving information regarding a person's death, the eye bank sends its team to collect the eyes. One can also call this number to receive details about the donation procedure. What is the procedure for eye donation? You can either call 1919 or an eye bank in your region. (Eye banks are usually listed under the essential services section of a telephone directory). On receiving your call, the eye bank personnel will provide clear directions and precautions to be taken. The process of removing eyes does not take more than 15 to 20 minutes. The procedure can be done conveniently at the residence as well. Who can donate eyes? Is there an age limit? Eyes can be donated by any person. In fact, even if a person has a history of hypertension, diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, etc, the corneas can be used for corneal transplants. Even spectacle wearers and people who have undergone an operation for cataract can donate eyes. What is an eye bank? An eye bank is a charitable organisation without any profit motive. It facilitates the removal, processing and evaluation of eyes and distributes them to persons in need of an eye transplant. What is the use of eyes received after death? The clear and transparent tissue at the front of the eye is called cornea. This can be used to restore vision to persons with corneal blindness. The other parts of the eye are also used for training and research purposes to develop cures for some common eye diseases. What is corneal blindness? The cornea is a focusing element of the eye. Vision is dramatically reduced, even lost, if the cornea becomes cloudy. This loss of vision is referred to as corneal blindness. What causes corneal blindness? The cornea can get damaged through accidents. Children can danage their cornea while playing with bows and arrows, or other sharp objects. Corneal damage can also result from industrial causes such as chemical burns, or form flying debris or road accidents. The cornea can get damaged due to infections and malnutrition too. Is there a cure for corneal blindness? Yes, corneal blindness can be cured by surgically removing the damaged cornea and replacing it with a healthy cornea. Artificial corneas have not been developed yet; hence the only source of cornea is through donated eyes. A cornea can be removed from a deceased person within six hours of death. A deceased person can bring the gift of sight to two people. What is the magnitude of corneal blindness? There are 1.1 million people suffering from corneal blindness in India. The majority of this are young adults. The present collection from all over the country is 20,514. How do I ensure that the eyes donated would not be misused? Eye banks are covered under 'Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994'. It is a criminal offence to buy or sell organs. The Indian government issues a certificate of registration to eye banks. In case a complaint is filed against any eye bank, the government can take legal action. What precautions are to be taken after the death of a person who has donated eyes? It is advisable to switch off fans, and keep the air conditioning on, if it is available. Raise the deceased person's head with the help of a pillow. Ensure that the eyelids are properly shut and place a clean wet cloth over the eyelids. Keep a copy of the death certificate ready (if available). The eye bank team removes the eyes after taking consent on a printed form and also takes a blood sample. After the removal of eyes would there be any disfigurement? Removing the eyes does not cause disfigurement. Eye banks have trained personnel who carry out the procedure. There are two methods adopted for removal of the eyes. Some eye banks remove the entire eye ball. In such a case there may be temporary bleeding. The eye bank team after removal of eyes would properly close the eyes so that there is no disfigurement. The second method involves the removal of the clear transparent tissue. In such instances a plastic shield is placed in place of the tissue and no difference is noticeable.