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World Sight Day: Donated eyes help throw light on new research

Thursday, 10 October 2013 - 1:10pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

Did you know a pair of donated eyes can do more than giving vision to some visually-handicapped person? It can aid in research in the field of ophthalmology, help budding ophthalmologists practice their skills and allow experienced senior ophthalmologists hone their craft thus making available the latest in state-of-the-art surgeries.

Yes, eye donations help doctors and others in the field carry out intensive research as well. Gujarat leads in number of eye donations but those working in the field say there is a need for more, as it also helps further research and learning at different levels. “Donated eyes are also used for research. When a family agrees to donate the eyes, we do tell them that it can be used for either research purpose, practice surgery or to help patients,” said Gautam Mazmudar, who is associated with CS Samariya Red Cross International Eye bank.

Explaining further, Dr Jagruti Jadeja, head of the DE Ankleshwaria Eye Bank said donated eyes that find their way into the ‘not suitable for surgery’ group can be used for research and education.

“Such eyes either have poor grade tissue or some medical condition that could be a threat to the health of the needy person,” said Dr Jadeja, who also heads the cornea and external diseases unit at the West Zone Regional Institute of Ophthalmology at Civil Hospital.

 “It could also be that the donor suffered from some infectious disease which can get communicated to the recipient and hence his/her eyes could not be given to a patient,” he added.

Mazmudar said that in 30% of the cases it may so happen that the family may refuse to donate the eyes when they realise that it may be used for research or other purpose as well. “But most still agree to donate. I know the case of a man in Khanpur who donated his eyes despite him being blind. It was a nerve problem that robbed him of his vision, but his eyes otherwise were of excellent quality and was donated,” said Mazmudar.

In 2011-12, the cornea department of the Institute of Ophthalmology in Civil Hospital got 670 donated eyes. Of these, around 38% were found suitable for surgery. A similar number of eyes were donated in 2012-13. Dr Jadeja also said that donated eyes are also used for cosmetic graft.

Poor vision? Don’t worry, you can still donate eyes
Experts said  it is a myth that only people with good vision can donate their eyes. According to them, every pair of donated eyes can be of some use. If not for patients, it can be used in research, education (wet lab surgeries) among others, said researchers.

Apart from helping patients, they help doctors carry out new research in field of ophthalmology.

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