The cornea is a clear dome shaped outermost layer that covers the front black portion of the eye.
WHAT IS CORNEAL BLINDNESS?
As long as the cornea remains transparent, light can pass through it and the person can see. Sometimes the cornea becomes opaque or cloudy (when it is damaged) or loses its transparency following trauma, infection or other diseases. A person with an opaque cornea cannot see; this condition is known as corneal blindness.
WHAT IS CORNEAL TRANSPLANTATION?
A corneally blind person can see again through a surgical procedure known as corneal transplantation wherein the damaged cornea is replaced with a healthy cornea from a deceased donor.
WHO CAN BE AN EYE DONOR?
Persons of any age, those who use spectacles, as well as those with diabetes or hypertension can donate their eyes after death. Persons below 18 years of age need an authorization from their parent or guardian for donating eyes. The consent of the next of kin is essential for removing the eye after the donor’s death.
ARE THE EYES REMOVED ONLY AFTER DEATH?
Yes, the eyes – or the corneal tissue – are removed only after death at the donor’s home or hospital. Even if the donor has not pledged to donate eyes in his/her lifetime, the consent of family members is enough to make an eye donation.
HOW SOON SHOULD THE CORNEA BE REMOVED AFTER A DONOR'S DEATH?
The cornea should be removed within 6-8 hours of death.
IS IT NECESSARY TO TAKE THE DONOR TO THE HOSPITAL FOR DONATING THE EYES?
No, the Eye Bank team will go to the donor’s residence or the hospital and perform the corneal excision.
DOES EYE DONATION CAUSE ANY DISFIGUREMENT?
No, removing the cornea does not cause any disfigurement; a transparent eye cap is placed in the eye in place of the removed cornea.
DOES THE PROCEDURE DELAY FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS?
No, the procedure takes only 20 minutes and family members can proceed with the funeral arrangements as planned.
IS THERE AN URGENT NEED FOR EYE DONATIONS?
Currently, the supply of donor eyes does not meet the demand. It is estimated that over two million people in our country suffer from corneal blindness, 60% of those requiring corneal transplants are below the age of 12. We need one lakh corneal transplants every year, but only 10,000 surgeries are performed.
HOW IS THE TISSUE HARVESTED FROM A DONOR?
The Eye Bank uses a simple procedure known as in situ corneal excision . This involves removing only the cornea from the eye of the donor. The excised cornea is kept in a preservative called the M K medium (developed by Ramayamma International Eye Bank, LVPEI) and stored in the refrigerator until it is used for surgery.
IMPORTANT ADVICE ABOUT MEDICATION
Please take the medicines as advised by the doctor; do not start or stop the medication on your own. If you are on oral steroid therapy and have to undergo any surgery, please inform your doctor. If you have taken oral steroids for more than two weeks, do not stop suddenly, as this could have serious problems.
Keep your medication where you can see it easily.
Schedule your medications around your daily routine, like when you wake up in the morning, at meal times or at bedtime.
If you forget to use your eye drops, use them as soon as you remember, instead of waiting till the next scheduled time. Then get back on schedule for the next dose.
Watch out for side effects like changes in vision. Inform your doctor immediately about them or on your next appointment. Schedule your check-ups regularly.When consulting doctors for other problems, tell them about the medicines that you are using. Eye medications can affect other parts of the body too.
CARE AFTER SURGERY
After surgery a bandage or shield will be placed over your eye. You will be advised to rest till you are ready to leave. You should wear protective glasses or an eye shield in the day and an eye patch at night to avoid accidental injury. The doctor will advise you when you can discontinue them. You can bathe carefully from below your neck but do not wet the operated eye for 15 days. You may gently clean the eyelids with a piece of cotton boiled in water or a sterilized tissue.
SOME IMPORTANT TIPS
Do not rub the operated eye.
Do not use any eye cosmetics until the doctor allows it.
Do not wash your hair until the doctor says you can.
Shave carefully, soap or water should not enter the eye.
Avoid any vigorous activity.
Do not lift heavy things.
Do not bend so that your head is lower than your waist.
Avoid driving till your vision improves.
Avoid sleeping on the operated side.
No sexual intercourse until permitted by the doctor.
Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Watch television for short periods only.
Please follow the advice of the patient counselor about medication and follow-up visits.
BE ALERT FOR PROBLEMS
If you have any of these symptoms that last more than 24 hours, inform the Institute or an ophthalmologist immediately:
Any sudden change in vision or blurring of vision
Increase in sensitivity to light or seeing flashes of pain
Increase in redness
Swelling of the eyelid or bleeding
Nausea or vomiting
White or cloudy cornea or pupil
Persistent discomfort or pain – if the pain is severe, do not delay, contact us immediately.