Eye donation and pledging in Karnataka got a big boost in the last two years following Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar’s donation that gave the gift of sight to four people.
Narayana Nethralaya, which runs the Dr. Rajkumar Eye Bank, recorded a huge increase, receiving over 1,27,924 eye pledges since the actor’s eye donation on October 29, 2021. The eye bank has collected 3,989 eyes since then. The eye bank had seen a total of around 65,000 pledges in the 30 years of its existence.
According to data from the hospital, overall the eye bank, started in 1993, has collected 18,766 eyes and received 1,68,192 pledges till August 26. Of these, 92,684 are online pledges. The hospital has an exclusive number — 8884018800 — through which people who wish to pledge their eyes can register their names. Those who want to donate can call 9741685555.
Ophthalmologists, who said there is a huge demand-supply gap in eye donations, asserted that corneal blindness can be treated only through transplantation from eye donations as there is no substitute for human tissue.
Rohit Shetty, chairman of Narayana Nethralaya, said of the 15 million blind people in India, 6.8 million suffer from corneal blindness, a reversible ailment with the potential to be cured through eye donation.
Under the National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment, the National Eye Donation fortnight is observed annually from August 25 to September 8. The goal is to raise awareness about corneal blindness and promote eye donation.
Midnight Run for Sight
In support of the 38th National Eye Donation Fortnight, the hospital is organising a Midnight Run for Sight.
The run will commence at 11.59 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, starting and ending at the Rajendra Singhji Army Officers Institute on Mahatma Gandhi Road. The competitive 10K and 5K Runs offer attractive cash prizes. Registration is open until 10 p.m. on August 30.
According to data from Sankara Eye Hospital 60% of the 1,100 corneal transplant recipients at the hospital are children and youngsters up to the age of 40, while the remaining 40% fall within the older age group. The hospital has a wait list of around 40 patients, said Pallavi Joshi, consultant, Cornea, Ocular Surface, and Refractive Surgery, at the hospital.
“Research has shown that the huge backlog of corneal transplants can be cleared within a period of three months if the eight million people dying in India donated their eyes,” she said.