Facts about Pledging Your Eyes for Donation - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

Pledge Your Eyes for Donation : Facts

Dr.Aashish K  Bansal profile Authored by Dr.Aashish K Bansal on 4 Aug 2014 - 15:47.


"Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful," said Hellen Keller. This speaks volumes about what vision means, to those who can't see. And when you have changed someone’s life, by donating your eyes after you die, giving a whole new meaning to this life, the recipient can’t ask for more.

India is short of corneas for transplantation. In order to reach the annual requirement of one lakh donor corneas, India currently needs a four-fold increase in the rates of corneal transplantation, experts believe. So, let’s contribute to this shortfall and add value to our and the reciepient’s lives.

Before we pledge our eyes for donation, let’s understand a few details from the renowned Dr. Aashish Bansal, cornea specialist and director, Center for Sight, Hyderabad.

What is an eye donation?

Eye donation means pledging / allowing one’s eyes (either full eye or only the front portion called cornea) to be removed by the eye bank personnel, after one's death for the purpose of transplantation in in someone else’s body.

Why donate eyes?

Those who are blind or are having poor vision because of corneal opacities or diseases. Therefore, eye donation is a very healthy practice and is crucial for treating corneal blindness and to reduce the rate of corneal blindness in the population.

Who can be a donor to whom?

Any one, irrespective of age, sex, caste, religion, color, healthy or suffering from any disease; having good vision or not, having any eye problem or not, using glasses or not, active or bed ridden, can donate eyes. While one can pledge his/her eyes for donation during one's life time, the eyes can be removed only after one's death. Unlike some other tissue donations, the eyes cannot be donated to or for a specific recipient. The eyes are donated to and stored in an eye bank. The eye bank supplies the eyes or corneas to the surgeon or the hospital whenever there is a requirement for transplantation in a recipient.

Are there any precautions to be followed before donating?

Following precautions should be taken after the death of the donor, till the eyes are removed:

  • Immediately inform the eye bank about the death.
  • Keep the death certificate from the doctor / hospital ready.
  • Close the eyes of the deceased and keep some moist cotton over closed eyes.
  • Switch off fan if it is throwing air directly over the dead body.
  • Keep the head end of the dead body raised by a few inches.

What are the facts about eye donation?

  • Anybody can donate eyes.
  • Eyes can be removed only after death of the donor.
  • Eyes cannot be sold or bought.
  • Eyes should usually be removed within 6 hours of death
  • The identity of donor and recipient is kept confidential
  • Only the front part of the eye called Cornea can be transplanted.  The whole eyeball  cannot be transplanted.
  • Eyes can be donated only to an eye bank and not directly to recipients or any individual.
  • Eye donation doesn't cause any disfigurement of the body.
  • While the whole eyeball may be removed, only the front layer called cornea is used for transplantation. Anyway, these days most eye banks go for removing cornea only and whole eyeball is rarely removed.

Is there any restriction in terms of age/health/or any other to donate eyes?

None at all.

How does the donation of eye help the recipient?

It helps in restoration of vision in the recipient who was having poor vision/blindness, because of some corneal pathology.

What is the importance of a donor registry?

Registering your name in the eye bank or the donor registry helps as by doing that the donor makes his desire to donate eyes official and also makes it known to others. Upon donor's death, it facilitates in the decision-making regarding the eye donation on the part of donor's next of kin.

How can one donate? What is the procedure?

One should contact the local eye bank and register his name as a donor. He will get a donor's card which he should always carry with him in his wallet. It is very important to let one's next of kin know that one has made a pledge for donating eyes. Upon death of the donor, it is the duty of the next of kin to immediately inform the eyebank about the death, following which the eyebank personnel will come and remove the eyes or cornea. The eyebank personnel will require a written authorization from the next of kin of the deceased before removing the eyes.

Where does one have to go for donation?

One needs to contact ones nearest eyebank for pledging the eyes. Upon death, the eyebank personnel will come to the deceased person's house / hospital or the mortuary where ever the body is lying to remove the eyes. 

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.