Protecting Vision And Raising Awareness On Eye Donation Against Growing Menace Of Blindness In India – BW Healthcareworld

Due to a lack of awareness, religious or social reserves, etc., eye donation is yet to get its due importance in India. The country lags behind in eye donation due to false social taboos, which needs to be addressed immediately

Blindness is one of the major public health concerns in India. In India, almost 68 lakh people suffer from corneal blindness in at least one eye and out of these, 10 lakh are blind in both eyes. The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2019 reported that corneal blindness was the leading cause of blindness among people aged less than 50 years in India. Considering these distressing figures, this World Sight Day the task is simple – take care of your eyes and pledge your eyes for donation after death to help a person witness this beautiful world. 
Eye Health Matters
A study conducted by the City University of London in 2019 including 250 participants revealed that people felt that sight was their most important sense. We often fail to prioritise eye health and take it for granted. Sight is one of our most prized possessions that helps us to make sense of the world around us. However, there are lots of eye diseases that can cause temporary or permanent vision loss. Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can also affect your eye health, leading to permanent damage to the eyes and subsequent sight loss. That’s why it becomes all the more important to keep the eyes healthy. Here’s how you can keep your eyes healthy and ensure that you have good vision:
Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet: The diet should include lots of green leafy vegetables and fruits, especially deep yellow and green leafy vegetables. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon and halibut can also help your eyes.
Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps you control or prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. All these factors can lead to eye or vision problems. Thus, if you exercise on a daily basis, you can lower the risk of getting these eye problems.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Obesity or being overweight increases the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes puts you at a greater risk of getting diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma.
Wear Sunglasses: Exposure to the sun can damage the eyes and increase the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Therefore, you must protect your eyes by using sunglasses that effectively block out both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
Eye Tests and Exams: It is important to undergo comprehensive dilated eye exams to detect eye diseases that may not show any symptoms. The frequency of eye exams depends on various factors like age, overall health and race. 
Awareness of Eye Donation is Equally Important.
As per the World Health Organisation, after glaucoma and cataract, blindness mostly results from corneal impairments. However, the good part is that the majority of these impairments are curable, especially through eye donation. Just like various organs of the body, the cornea of the eye can also be donated after death, which can render vision to a blind person.
But, due to a lack of awareness, religious or social reserves, etc., eye donation is yet to get its due importance in India. The country lags behind in eye donation due to false social taboos, which needs to be addressed immediately. While, of late, several campaigns are being organised across the country to educate people to “pledge” their eyes and dispel myths associated with eye donation, more efforts are required to raise public awareness of eye donation. In fact, research has shown that when people are made aware of the present deficit and the life-changing potential of eye donation, more than half of them change their minds and consider donating their eyes after their death. Thus, it highlights the need to share the message and raise awareness of eye donation.
You Too Can Donate Your Eyes.
Corneal transplants can help restore vision in people who have damaged cornea. Damage to the cornea can happen through injury, infection or diseases such as keratoconus. However, the sight-saving procedure is only possible if there is a donated cornea to transplant.
The good news is that almost everyone can donate their eyes after death to help restore vision to a corneal blind person. Irrespective of your age, blood type, eye colour or level of eyesight, you can donate your eyes after death. There are only a few conditions, like HIV and hepatitis, that prevent eye donation. If your donation is not fit for transplant, it can be used for medical research purposes. Your donation can help researchers better understand eye diseases. This can lead to new and improved treatments and cures.
Since eye donation can take place only after death, it is important that you sign a pledge to donate your eyes to a registered eye bank. After submitting the form, the next step is to inform your family and friends about the decision. During the time of the donation, the next of kin’s consent is required in the presence of 2 witnesses to allow the donation to take place.
Final Say
Blindness is a growing menace in India and requires urgent attention. There is a huge gap between the demand and supply of donated tissues, which is mainly due to a lack of awareness and myths associated with eye donation. It is thus important to launch nationwide campaigns to create awareness among the people regarding the importance of eye donation and how to better care for the eyes. By donating your eyes, you enlighten the lives of two blind people, making it one of the noblest acts.
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