A new eye bank to store corneas, which are useful in restoring sight in the blind, was inaugurated on Monday.
Sunderlal Jain Hospital, Sankalp Charitable and Rotary Foundation together set up the Dr LP Agarwal Rotary Memorial Eye Bank in northwest Delhi to help meet the huge demand for cornea storage centres.
As early as 1905, doctors had discovered that corneal blindness could be cured by removing the damaged cornea — the clear, dime-sized tissue covering the eye — and replacing it with another clear human cornea.
These transplants are a problem, experts said, primarily because donor tissues are not readily available.
"In India, 12.5 million people suffer from blindness with about 110,000 who have corneal blindness. If timely efforts are not made to restore eyesight in the corneal blind through transplantation, the blind population will only grow in the coming years," said M. Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, who announced and inaugurated the eye bank at Sunder Lal Jain Hospital in northwest Delhi on Monday.
"The target set for corneal collection in 2010-2011 was only 60,000 and all eye banks collectively could collect just over 43,000. Of these about 35% could not be used as they were not suited for transplantation leaving roughly 25,000- 30,000 corneas suited for re-use," he said.
"We have devised a plan where eyes could be systematically obtained, preserved and redistributed to doctors performing cornea transplant operations," said Niharika Rathi, a member, Rotary Club of Delhi, Uptown.
Professor MGK Menon, president India International Centre, was the guest of honour at the event.