About 75% of eyeballs donated in the city were wasted, because they were not viable for transplant, claims the state health department’s records.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, of the 2,509 eyeballs collected in Mumbai, only 607 could be used for performing keratoplasty (corneal transplant surgery), while the remaining had to be discarded.
"Half of the donors are above 70 and their corneas are highly degenerated because of low cell count. Hence these are not viable to be used in keratoplasty," said Deepak Dalal, member of advisory board, Eye Bank Coordination and Research Centre, Parel.
At an average, major eye banks have at least 300 to 500 patients waiting for cornea.
Last month, the state health department sent out notices to various eye banks asking them to explain the reasons for cornea wastage.
"Corneas that are not used for transplant are given to medical colleges for research purpose. We have asked all eye banks to improve the viability of the cornea collected," said Dr R Kathane, assistant director, National Programme for Control of Blindness at state health department.
If the donated cornea belongs to a person who suffered from infectious disease such as HIV or Hepatitis C it cannot be used for a transplant.
The situation is no different in the state with 4,694 of the 7,503 eyeballs collected found unviable. "Eyeballs should be collected within four to six hours of death. The shelf life of the stored cornea is very less and should be transplanted within 96 hours from the time of death," said Dalal.