National Eye Donation Fortnight: India sees sharp drop in corneal transplant by 52% during COVID-19

Launched 2 simple step website for Eye Donation -

Delhi : According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) approximately 15 million people in India are blind, out of the 45 million people across the world. Also, the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) estimates that every year around 25,000-30,000 new cases of corneal blindness occur in India. Blindness is a major health concern for India and its prevalence is further exacerbated by low availability of eye donors. In most cases, corneal blindness is curable with corneal transplantation.

Corneal transplant, a surgical procedure to replace part of your cornea with corneal tissue from a donor, has reduced by approximately 52% during COVID-19 pandemic. When the COVID-19 outbreak began last year in March 2020, corneal tissue retrieval was temporarily halted, putting corneal transplants on hold. According to EBAI (Eye Bank Association of India), the number of corneal transplants has reduced to 12,998 between April 2020 to March 2021, while 27,075 corneal transplants were conducted in the previous year.

India requires a minimum of two lakh eye donations annually however, the present number stands at a meagre 45,000. Supporting the National Eye Donation Fortnight which is observed from 25th August to 8thSeptember every year, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals is organising a series of activities across India to create about the importance of eye donation and to motivate people to donate their eyes after death.

ENTOD Pharmaceuticals, one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the Ophthalmic ENT segments across India and other countries has created an online website collaboration with the Eye Bank Association of India (EBAI). Through this website anyone can pledge their eyes from the comfort of their home in just 2 simple steps and make a visually impaired person’s life brighter.

Supporting the cause, Mr Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals, said, “Eyes donated by a person can help restore vision in 2 corneal blind people. Lack of awareness and myths associated with eye donation prevents people from donating their eyes.Any person can donate their eyes irrespective of sex, age, religion or blood group. Therefore,on the occasion of the National Eye Donation Fortnight, we urge people to come forward and pledge their eyes. Out of 15 million blind people in India, 6.8 million have corneal blindness, with vision less than 6/60 in either of the eyes. Near about 1 million people are blind in both eyes, and this bilateral corneal blindness can be reversed. Eye donation usually takes place only after the person is deceased, and with the consent of the family, so it is important that not only the person pledging the eyes is aware of its importance but the entire family is educated about the needs to do the same too.”

“In India there are almost 70 lakh patients suffering from corneal disease, 12 lakh patients require corneal transplant and 2 lakh are suffering from corneal blindness in both the eyes, so immediate corneal transplant is required for them. In India, before covid, we used to get around 55-60 thousand eye donations and we successfully completed 30-35 thousand corneal transplants. Every year 35-40 thousands new patients suffer from the same issue. Our goal is to achieve at least 1 lakh eye donations per years, so that more corneal transplants can be done, around 50-60 thousand. India can do better in this and have the potential to lead the entire South Asia. We need to encourage and motivate the people in our society towards the importance of eye donation. If we all come together for this noble cause, then achieving1 lakh corneal transplant/harvesting is not that difficult.” explained Dr Rakesh Shah, EBAI Chairperson – West Zone & Ophthalmologist / Eye Surgeon.

To create increasing awareness and motivation of eye donation in India, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals has come up with a YouTube channel “EYEHealth” where eye donation appeal videos by prominent doctors are uploaded. The videos are also available in different languages so as to help people from different regions of the country gain knowledge about the significance of eye donation.

Dr Shah also informed that even when patients die of other ailments like heart disease, in non-Covid deaths, there are some suspicions on whether Covid infection is present in the cornea. RT-PCR testing takes time but we are on the side of caution. Number of corneal donation comes down to zero whenever a Covid wave peaks.

ENTOD is conducting two virtual program under the aegis of EBAI west zone on 3rd and 5th Sept’21 for the general public to talk about eye health and emphasize on the need for everyone to donate their eyes

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