The Sabha has launched a scheme in association with Sankara Nethralaya to enable the economically weak section of our community in Chennai to undergo surgery for eye diseases like cataract etc. Under this scheme, the Sabha will sponsor the cases to the Sankara Nethralaya and after surgery/treatment; the Sabha will pay the bill direct to the Sankara Nethralaya.

While on the subject, it is very essential for us to know about eye donations. Despite the large population of India, it is a pity that a lot of our eye hospitals depend on eyes donated in Sri Lanka to cure the blind here. Some persons have a misconceived belief that if a body is disposed off (by cremation/burial) with some organs missing, that person will be reborn without these organs. But there is no support for such a belief in scriptures or in science.

In fact, scriptures talk about the importance of daanas (gifts) such as Pancha Daanas, Dasa Daanas etc. and the Agni Purana mentions even Shata Daanas which include parts of the human body. Donating parts of the body is the best Daana one can do. Bhagavata Purana mentions about Sage Dadheechi who, on being requested by Indra, donated his back-bone for making Vajraayudha. The Sage informed Indra that he considered himself to be most fortunate to make available his bone for a noble cause and left his body by yogic practice.

There is no requirement according to scripture that the body, in its entire form, should be offered to Agni (cremated). There is no taboo on donation of body parts. However, once the body is bathed before cremation, no structural changes are to be done before cremation.

Eye donation is done much before bathing the body. In fact eye donation has to be completed within 6 hours of death.

We give below some basic information on eye donations:

What is an Eye Bank
An eye bank is an organization, which obtain, evaluates and distributes eyes from humanitarian-minded citizens for use in corneal transplantation, research and education. To ensure patient safety, the donated eyes are evaluated under strict medical standards. All donated eyes not suitable for corneal transplantation are used for valuable research and education.

Why should eyes be donated?
Donated human eyes are necessary in preservation and restoration of sight through corneal transplantation, research and education. More than 90% corneal transplant operation successfully restores vision in people suffering from blindness due to corneal problems. Infants born with cloudy corneas have an opportunity to see following corneal transplantation.

What is the Cornea?
The cornea is the clear, transparent dome in front of the “black portion” of the eyes. It is also the main focusing surface, which converges light rays as they enter the eye to focus on the retina. It is thus the most important part of the optical apparatus of the Eye. Loss of transparency directly results in loss of vision.

What is Corneal Transplantation?
A Corneal transplant is an operation which replaces the opaque cornea with a clear cornea obtained from a human donor eye.

Magnitude of the problem in India
1/3rd of the world’s blind is in India
27 million – moderate sight impairment
9 million – bilateral blind (in both eyes)
260,000 – blind children

Corneal blinds in India number 4.6million. Out of these 90% are below the age of 45 years including 60% who are below the age of 12 years.

Out of 4.6 million, at least 3 million can benefit by corneal transplantation.

Who can be an eye donor?
Practically anybody from the age of one. There is no maximum age limit. Poor eye sight and age make no difference. One can bequeath his eyes by taking a pledge while he is alive. He resolves to donate his eyes after his death. This by itself is a noble act but it requires relatives or friends to carry out his pledge, his desire, after his death. Spectacle wearers, persons who had cataract surgery, diabetics and hypertensives can donate eyes. The ultimate decision about usage for transplantation will be made after evaluation.

Can the next-of-kin consent to a donation if the deceased family member hasn’t signed a pledge form?

How to donate?
You are authorized to donate the eyes of your beloved relatives at the time of their death. But the eyes need to be collected within 6 hours of death. So, please call the eye bank as early as possible after the death.

Things to do after making the call:
1. Keep both eyes of deceased closed and covered with moist cotton.
2. Switch off the overhead fan.
3. If possible, instill antibiotic eye drops periodically in the deceased’s eyes to reduce the chance of infection.
4. Raise the head end of the body by about 6 inches, if possible – to lessen the incidence of bleeding during the removal of the eyes.

Who cannot be a donor?
Death of unknown cause.
Death due to infections caused by Rabies, syphilis, infectious hepatitis, septicemia and AIDS.

Is there any delay in funeral arrangements?
No. Eyes removal is performed shortly (within half an hour) after death and leaves no visible signs that would interfere with common funeral practices.

Can the whole eye be transplanted?
No. Only the cornea can be transplanted. However, the rest in part of the donor eye is used for research and education.

Can a person blind from retinal or optic nerve disease donate his eyes?
Yes. Provided the cornea is clear.

Can a living person donate his/her eyes?

Can the recipients be told who donated the eyes?
No. The gift of sight is made anonymously.

Any special phone nos. for eye bank and eye donations?
Yes. A dedicated special phone Nos.28281919 and 28271616 are available for 24 hours service. Family members of the deceased persons can contact this phone no. to donate the eyes of the deceased persons.

We hope all our readers are convinced of the need for enabling a large number of persons suffering from corneal blindness to regain their sight because of the eye donations from the more enlightened section. An eye donation form has been enclosed with the Newsletter addressed to our members residing in Chennai. We trust our readers elsewhere will be able to contact a nearest Eye-Bank and thus help to a large extent to eliminate blindness.


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