On 5th September 2020 Dr. Pronoti Sinha Secretary, Bihar Eye Bank Trust and Dr. Vinita Sinha Consultant (Eye) in Jharkhand Eye Bank, Hospital and Research Centre, were Guests of Honour at a meeting held by Lions Club Ranchi. Dr. P. Sinha emphasized the personal discomfort of the blind and the need to give them sight so that they can regain their dignity and lead normal lives. In the world there are 37 million blind people and India has the largest number with 15 million. Out of these, 3 million suffer from corneal blindness. Unfortunately 26% are children. Cataract and glaucoma are the main causes of blindness. After that corneal blindness is most common. The National Programme for the Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment has estimated that we need 200,000 corneas per year but figures show that in 2019-2020 only 65,000 eyes were collected. Out of that only 50% were usable. Every year the number grows. Some wrong ideas prevent people from donating eyes. For instance some fear that the face is disfigured after eye donation. This is not true. The medical team are trained to close the eyes and the person seems to be sleeping. Others fear they will be born blind in the next life. Dr. P. Sinha asked the audience to spread the message of eye donation and help to remove wrong ideas.
Dr. Vinita Sinha said that the cornea gets damaged because of injury, malnutrition or illness. She explained how eyes are collected, stored and finally transplanted on the blind patient. The whole eye is not transplanted, only the cornea. Although anyone can donate, even small children and those who wear glasses or have high blood pressure or have had a cataract operation, eyes cannot be collected from a person dying of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, meningitis, septicemia and such causes. A pledge form signifying that someone wishes to donate his eyes after death can be signed but it is necessary to tell the family of this wish so that they will inform the eye bank when necessary.
In the question and answer session, it was clarified that currently eyes can be pledged in Jharkhand Eye Bank, Hospital and Research Centre by filling in a form. Part of this form with numbers to be contacted is detached and given to the person. This is only a means of spreading the message. Bihar Eye Bank Trust has renovated its website ”jharkhandeyebank.in” and is arranging for eyes to be pledged online.
Another question was that a death certificate is essential before eyes can be collected but usually a death certificate cannot be obtained immediately. Dr. P. Sinha said this was a problem eye banks face. She asked for support and active help from Lions Club to move government about this problem. Only if people move in a body will change come about. She informed them that in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, police orders had been passed about medico-legal cases. This allows the attending doctor to certify that the eyes are not part of the post mortem process. Then the eyes are collected. Although Bihar Eye Bank Trust had approached the DIG Police some years ago, this order was not passed. Dr. S. P. Agarwal, Vice Chancellor of Sainath University, was the Chief Guest at this meeting.