What you need to know and do

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Eye donation.

Q. Who can be an eye donor?

A. Anyone can be an eye donor, irrespective of age, sex, religion, caste, creed or blood group.

Q. Do religious authorities approve of eye donation?

A. Yes, all religious faiths support this vital sight restoration programme.

Q. Is the whole eye used for transplant?

A. No, only the thin transparent layer in front of the iris, called the cornea is used for transplant, to replace the diseased or opaque cornea in the eye of the patient (recipient).

Q. Do cataracts or the use of spectacles render the cornea unfit for donation?

A. No, both these conditions relate to the lens of the eye and not the cornea. In fact, people who have been successfully operated for cataracts or glaucoma or even retinal detachments can also donate their eyes after death!

Q. Does eye donation disfigure the donor’s face?

A. No, the removal of the eyes does not produce disfigurement nor interfere with the customary funeral arrangements.

Q. Does the human body reject the transplanted donor’s cornea? How successful are corneal transplants?

A. The human cornea does not have any blood supply; hence the risk of rejection is very low. Rejection, if it does occur can be suppressed by timely medication. In general, the chances of success are greater than 80%.

Q. What conditions render the cornea unfit for donation?

A. Corneas of patients suffering from AIDS, rabies, syphilis, tetanus, septicaemia and certain viral diseases are considered unfit for use for transplant purposes.

Q. What about diabetes, hypertension or cancer?

A. People with these conditions can also donate their eyes. Eyes from a cancer patient are not used for transplant only if the cancer had a blood borne spread.

Q. Is there any use for corneas which are for some reason unfit for transplant?

A. Corneas, which for some reason cannot be used for vision restoring corneal transplants, are invaluable for research and training programmes.

Q. How will my donation be used?

A. After the eyes are removed, they will be evaluated, processed, screened and then supplied to the eye surgeon for transplant.

Q. Do corneal transplants guarantee sight to all blind people?

A. No, transplants only help when the loss of sight is solely due to corneal defects and the rest of the eye mechanism is intact.

Q. How quickly should eyes be removed after death?

A. As soon as possible, but eyes can be removed up to 6 hours after death. However, in places where the climate is hot such as most parts of India, a shorter duration, preferably 2 to 4 hours after death is advisable.