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Maharashtra lags behind in eye donations, reveals data submitted in LS 

State recorded only 936 out of total 14,474 (6%) eye donations in India between April and July 25 this year

mumbai Updated: Jul 31, 2018 23:46 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Lok Sabha
Dr Satish Pawar, joint director of Directorate of Health Services, said the numbers are low in Maharashtra due to the accurate reportage system of the state. (Pic for representation/ REUTERS)

Despite having the largest number of eye banks in the country, Maharashtra stands sixth in terms of eye donations, shows national data submitted in the Lok Sabha.

It said the state recorded only 936 out of total 14,474 (6%) eye donations in India between April and July 25 this year.

While state officials called it a statistical irregularity, ophthalmologists said the poor record is the result of irrational norms, lack of networking between hospitals and eye banks and myths that keep people away from donating eyes.

As per national reports, 40 to 50 per cent of donated eyes are utilised for corneal transplantation across the country.

“Because of medical reasons such as poor quality of collected corneas, age of donor, pre-existing degeneration/diseases and so on, not all collected corneas are found suitable for corneal transplantation. Hence, only healthy suitable corneas are utilised for corneal transplantation to restore the vision of corneal blind,” said Anupriya Patel, minister of state, health and family welfare, while presenting the statistics in Lok Sabha last week.

Maharashtra with 74 eye banks—which is 20 per cent of India’s eye banks —has managed 23,311 eye donations from March 2015 to July 2018. During the period, Telangana (two eye banks, 27,725 donations), Tamil Nadu (38 eye banks, 37,898 donations) and Gujarat (29 eye banks, 26,759 donations) have achieved higher targets.

Dr Satish Pawar, joint director of Directorate of Health Services, said the numbers are low in Maharashtra due to the accurate reportage system of the state.

“While Maharashtra only reported the transplanted corneas, other states probably report every eye donation not considering if it underwent transplant. Maharashtra is on a par with other states in terms of eye donations,” said Dr Pawar.

Ophthalmologists said they haven’t noticed a drop in numbers but myths among people in the state are still strong.

“In some communities, the eye donation is barred because of their religious beliefs. Such myths need to be busted to make sure more eye donations take place in the state,” said Dr TP Lahane, former dean and head of ophthalmology department, Sir JJ Hospital.

Dr Radhika Tandon from Indian Eye Bank Association said there is an urgent need to create a strong network of larger eye banks in metro cities with major hospitals to increase donations and transplant surgeries.

“Once retrieved, the cornea needs to be transplanted within 10 days. While some states such as Maharashtra and West Bengal have restricted the cross border transplantation of eye donations, others don’t have enough funds allocated for retrieval, transportation and other logistical means,” said Dr Tandon.

She added that the state governments, and corporates, need to spend more funds to create awareness and networking to improve the eye donation.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 23:46 IST