Around 36% of donated corneas wasted in Rajasthan

Only 64% of eyes donated in Rajasthan last year have been utilized while the remaining was discarded as corneas were not suitable for transplantation

jaipur Updated: Nov 01, 2017 20:08 IST
Dinesh Bothra
Dinesh Bothra
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan news,visually-impaired,eyes donated
The Indian national Survey of Blindness has revealed that Rajasthan has the second highest population or 2,5% of visually-impaired people in the country. (Representative picture/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Only 64% of eyes donated in the state last year have been utilized while the remaining was discarded as they were not suitable for transplantation.

It’s disappointing keeping in mind that the Indian National Survey of Blindness revealed that the second highest population (2.5%) of visually-impaired in the country is in Rajasthan. Tamil Nadu has the highest visually-impaired population (2.7%). Hence, on an average around 35-38%, corneas are being wasted.

In Rajasthan, eye donation and transplant facilities are available in Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Jodhpur Medical Colleges.

Medical education department statistics show that last year 1,477 people donated their corneas in these four medical colleges. Only 951 were transplanted.

The highest wastage rate was in Bikaner College, where last year 136 eyes were donated, but only 13 were used. Also, most donated corneas have not been used in Bikaner in last five years.

In Jaipur, 1,254 eyes were donated out of which only 904 were transplanted.

“All donated corneas have to be evaluated on different parameters. Those found unsuitable are not transplanted,” said Dr JK Chauhan, ophthalmology expert at SMS Medical College, Jaipur. He claimed that the position of the eye transplant is better in India when compared to countries like America.

An eye specialist of a private eye clinic, who did not want to be named, said that the cornea should be donated within six to eight hours of a person’s death. In some cases, after donation either the cornea gets infected or is not stored in time. The doctor said that most elderly suffer from some disease and corneas donated by them are unfit for transplant. Also, corneas are screened for various diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, hepatitis B and others before they are used.

The worrying aspect, however, is that according to the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), 1.2 lakh live with corneal blindness in India. Around 20,000 cases are added every year. These people need a transplant to regain their vision.

Under NPCB, Rajasthan had set a target of collecting 1,200 donated corneas this year. Until June 2017, only 396 eye donations were made.

An official, on the condition of anonymity, said that the rate of cornea wastage in Bikaner is the highest in the last five years, but no effort is being made to reduce it. After grabbing headlines for cornea wastage six years ago, SN Medical College, Jodhpur, closed its eye bank and started a new system. “Now, we send the donated eyes to the Jaipur eye bank. According to the transplant demand, we ask from corneas from them. This pooling system ensures that corneas don’t get damaged,” said SN Medical College ophthalmology head Prof. Arvind Chauhan.

“Also damaged corneas are not always wasted, a lot of them are used for research,” said Prof. Chauhan.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 20:05 IST