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Corneal Transplantation – A boon to Society

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

What is Corneal Transplantation ?

The cornea is the transparent front portion of the eye. It is the first focusing element of the eye. It carries the light into the eye and focuses it on the retina and that is how we can see clearly. If the cornea becomes opaque light cannot pass through it and the person becomes blind.




Cornea can become opaque due to infections, injuries, lack of proper post-operative care, malnutrition, and also due to congenital or hereditary reasons. This loss of the vision is referred to as "corneal blindness". Corneal blindness can affect children and adults and can affect both eyes making them blind.

In such people, replacing the cornea ( transplant ) with a clear cornea donated by the donor can help that blind person to see the world.


Did you know that 1 Eye donation can help 2 blind people see because 1 cornea is transplanted into only 1 person and the other cornea into another person.



Q. Is the whole eye used for transplant?

A. No, only the thin transparent layer in front, called the cornea is used for transplantation. Only those who have lost vision because of a corneal problem are benefitted by this procedure.


Q. How is a Corneal Transplantation done ?

A circular portion of the opaque cornea is removed from the center. A matching circular area is removed from the center of a healthy, clear donor cornea and fixed into position.


Q. Does the human body reject the transplanted donor’s cornea? How successful are corneal transplants?

A. The human cornea does not have any blood supply, hence the risk of rejection is very low. Rejection, if it does occur can be suppressed by timely medication. In general, the chances of success are greater than 80%. Needless to say that extreme care needs to be taken after the transplantation, repeated checkups with the doctor and maintaining proper hygiene is very important.


What is Eye Donation ?

Eye Donation means donating the eyes after a person’s death. It is an act of charity, purely for the benefit of the society and is totally voluntary. 


Eyes are a very valuable part of a human being, they should not be wasted by burning or burying the body.


Certain Facts about Eye DONATION.

Donation of the eyes gives sight to TWO Corneally blind persons, enabling them to come out of their dark life into a life full of colors, a life where they can see and enjoy this beautiful world!

Statistics shows that out of 15 million people who are blind in India, 6.8 million are suffering from blindness due to diseases of the Cornea in atleast 1 eye. And this number is estimated to increase to 10.6 million by the year 2020.

In India the number of people who pledge to donate eyes has increased, but still actual eye donations are still low as compared to the demand.


Q. Who can be an eye donor?

A. Anyone can be an eye donor, irrespective of age, sex, religion, caste, creed or blood group.


Q. Do cataracts or the use of spectacles render the cornea unfit for donation?

A. No, both these conditions relate to the lens of the eye and not the cornea. In fact, people who have been successfully operated for cataracts or glaucoma or even retinal detachments can also donate their eyes after death. In fact there have been instances of those who have received a corneal transplant themselves donating their corneas


Q. What conditions render the cornea unfit for donation?

A. Corneas of patients suffering from AIDS, rabies, syphilis, tetanus, septicaemia and certain viral diseases are considered unfit for use for transplant purposes.


Q. What about diabetes, hypertension or cancer?

A. People with these conditions can also donate their eyes. Eyes from a cancer patient are not used for transplant only if the cancer had a blood borne spread.


Q. How quickly should eyes be taken after death?

A. As soon as possible, but eyes can be removed up to 6 hours after death. However, in places where the climate is hot such as most parts of India, a shorter duration, preferably 2 to 4 hours after death is advisable.


Q. Is it necessary to transport the donor to the hospital after death?

A. No, eye banks/ eye collection centres have their own people who will come to the donor’s home or place of death and take the eyes.


Q. What is to be done when a relative expires?

A.

1. Close the eye lids of the deceased put off any overhead fans, to prevent drying of the cornea. However, if there is an air-conditioner, switch it on, if possible.

2. Cover the closed eye lids with moist cotton wool (if readily available in the house, otherwise do not bother).

3. Call your eye specialist and the trained people will come to your doorstep and collect the eyes.


Most importantly, the immediate family of the deceased will be grieving at that point in time, so it is the duty of the relatives, close friends, family doctors or any well wisher to suggest eye donation to the family members.

How will it be to live without eyesight for a day? I guess most of us don’t even want to think about a day like that in our lives. So we can only imagine how it would be to live without eyesight. Our world consists of things big or small and colorful. We see shapes and we recognize people or anything else because of our eyesight. However not all of us are lucky to have this asset.

So we, the Team of Dr. Kodkany’s Eye Centre request you take the part in this initiative to promote eye donation and Corneal transplant.


At Dr Kodkany's Eye Centre Corneal Transplant Operations are being performed since more than 1 year. It is the only Eye Hospital in Belgaum, in the private sector to get permission from the Government of Karnataka under the HOTA ( Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissues Act ) for Corneal transplants. Since then many people at Dr Kodkany’s Eye Centre have regained vision from this Procedure of Corneal transplantation.

Before Transplantation After Transplantation


Recent Advances In Corneal Transplantations :

There are different layers in the cornea. Due to various reasons sometimes all the layers in the cornea are not affected. Sometimes only the layers in front are affected and layers at the back portion of the cornea remain unaffected. In the past whichever layer was affected the whole cornea was transplanted where as now with newer advances only those layers which are affected can be transplanted and the remaining normal layers are left intact. These type of partial layered transplants are called Lamellar Keratoplasty or DSAEK / DMEK. With these options the recovery is much faster than with full thickness Corneal transplants.

They do not involve sutures and visual recovery is very fast.



DR SHILPA KODKANY

M.S(Ophthalmology)

Chief Consultant & Medical Director

Dr Kodkany’s Eye Centre

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