common eye problems

October ushers in the World Sight Day on October 12 every year. With nearly 4.6 million people affected by corneal blindness in India, it is time for us to transform World Sight Day into Eye Donation day. Yes, the need of the hour is to spread awareness about eye donation and make people aware that corneal blindness can be eradicated only with eye donation.

Nearly one lakh corneal transplantations operations need to be conducted in India every year but the actual number of operations performed is only 25-30,000. This is due to the lack of awareness among the public about eye donation.

Let us learn some facts about corneal blindness and aid the cause of World Sight Day by spreading awareness on eye donation.

Common eye problems leading to corneal blindness

Corneal blindness is the only form of blindness that can be cured by eye transplant. It is the major cause of blindness in the world followed by cataract and glaucoma. Corneal blindness may occur due to injury, industrial accidents, infections or mishaps. It can be cured by transplanting a healthy cornea through eye donation.

Here are some of the eye health issues that lead to corneal blindness.

  • Keratoconus Here the spherical cornea bulges and becomes distorted, leading to visual impairment. As this disease progresses, the cornea thins and bulges, forming scars. The success rate of corneal transplant for Keratoconus is 95%.
  • Fuchs' dystrophy This is a common eye problem that affects mostly women of 30-40 years and is felt acutely only at 50-60 years. Without any reason, the corneal cells deteriorate resulting in loss of vision. This can be easily cured by a corneal transplant and its success rate is 73%.
  • Bullous Keratopathy Bullous Keratopathy is the corneal blistering that occurs in elders after a cataract surgery. The cornea swells after surgery forming fluid-filled blisters which cause pain and impair vision. This can be treated by eye transplant.
  • Herpetic eye diseaseThis eye health issue is the most common cause of corneal blindness in the US. It is caused by varicella zoster or herpes simplex virus. Nearly 46,000 people are affected there every year with severe cases leading to corneal scarring. Vision restoration requires a corneal transplant. All the above eye health issues cause corneal blindness and require eye transplants.

Medical tourism for Eye transplant in India

Experienced ophthalmologists, eye- surgeons, eye hospitals and vision centres are plenty to perform eye transplants in India. India's eye care professionals are so skilful in performing eye surgery with minimum invasion. This is why medical tourism is popular in India for eye transplantation and surgery.

Corneal transplant surgery is also called corneal grafting and it involves replacing the diseased cornea with a donated corneal tissue. It is of 2 types

  • Full-thickness corneal transplant where all the layers of the cornea are transplanted
  • Lamellar corneal transplant where only some layers of the cornea are transplanted.

Corneal transplant only costs $2000 in India and requires only a day's stay in the hospital for surgery and observation. This is only a fraction of the cost which is $13,000 -$28,000 in the U.S. This is why there is a high demand for medical tourism to India  for undergoing these ophthalmic procedures.

Facts you need to know about eye donation

  • Corneal tissue should be removed from the deceased's eyes within 6-8 hours of death.
  • One cornea is grafted to one person. So 2 people gain vision when a pair of eyes are donated.
  • Diabetics and BP patients can also donate along with spectacle wearers.
  • Raise the head of the deceased with a pillow. Switch off the fan and Ac and keep the eyes moist by covering the eyes with cotton wool till the eyes are donated.
  • There is no disfigurement in this 15 min procedure.

Spread the light of vision by advocating eye donation and pledging your eyes.