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US firm set to teach Mumbai eye bank to preserve corneas for 2 years

Currently, therapeutic corneas can be preserved for only two weeks.

mumbai Updated: Jul 17, 2018 12:37 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,US firm
This is the first time an Indian eye bank will be able to prolong the shelf life of corneas for up to two years, an eye doctor said.(HT File Photo/Used for representational purpose)

In a first, a city-based eye bank will soon have the expertise to preserve therapeutic corneas for two years. Currently, therapeutic corneas can only be preserved for two weeks and are stored in Cornisol or MK Media.

Baltimore-based International Federation of Eye Banks and Tissue Banks will teach staff from Eye Bank Coordination and Research Centre (EBCRC), Parel, how to prolong the shelf life of therapeutic corneas. This is part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between them two months ago.

Dr Quresh Maskati, consultant eye surgeon associated with EBCRC, said this is the first time an Indian eye bank will be able to prolong the shelf life of corneas for up to two years.

“Corneas will be irradiated with gamma radiations and stored in a medium, which will make them viable at room temperature for two years. The exact method of irradiation is their propriety. We don’t even know how it works,” Maskati said. He said irradiation will be done at Tata Memorial Hospital.


While Maharashtra will be the first state to receive the expertise, other states will not be able to avail benefits because a 2008 state notification prohibits eye banks from sending corneas outside Maharashtra.

Jaswant Mehta, one of the trustees of EBCRC, said corneas may not reach the needy outside the state until the notification is amended.

“With increase in shelf life, more corneas will be available. Even now when we have surplus therapeutic corneas, but can’t send them to patients in other states. The notification also restricts us from sending non-viable corneas to teaching institutes outside Maharashtra,” he said.

EBCRC has written to the state, informing it about the corneas going waste. HT has the copies of the e-mails.

Dr Ragini Parekh, ophthalmologist from Sir JJ Hospital, supports the notification. “Why should we send corneas outside, when there is such high demand in the state? I see at least one patient a day who may need corneal transplant,” she added.

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 12:37 IST