GUWAHATI, Oct 16 - Despite increased awareness, eye donations in the State have not picked up.
According to the National Programme for Control of Blindness under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this year till July, only 48 donated eyes were collected in the State.
In the last financial year, 394 donated eyes were collected. Similarly, in 2013-14, the number was 446 and in 2012-13, it
Unlike in Assam, states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have shown tremendous progress in the matter of eye donation. In the last financial year, Tamil Nadu saw 11,051 donated eyes being collected, while Gujarat saw 8,436.
Opthalmologists and volunteers working in the field have blamed lack of awareness for the poor eye donation scenario in the State.
Sankaradeva Nethralaya medical director Dr Harsha Bhattacharjee said majority of the eye donations are from the Jain community.
�There is a need to increase awareness among the people. Not many are coming forward to pledge their eyes. It is through voluntary organisations that we are getting most of the donated eyes. Moreover, there is a belief among some sections of the society that if one donates any organ, they would be born with abnormalities in their next life. Most of the eyes donated are from the Jain community,� Bhattacharjee told The Assam Tribune.
Many Indian communities have not been very forthcoming in registering their names as potential organ donors. However, Jains, who regard compassion to be a main principle of their faith, donate organs pro-actively. According to Jain beliefs, the body from which the soul has departed is of no value. Thus, if any part of that body can be usefully employed, at least someone else will benefit.
Sankaradeva Nethralaya has the region�s largest eye bank. There are nine eye banks in the region.
Rahul Chandak, chairman, Gift an Organ vertical, Young Indians, pitched for creation of more eye banks to encourage eye donation.
�The scene in Assam is really bad. We need to have more infrastructure, more eye banks. People don�t know where and how to donate their eyes. If we can create a bank in each district, I feel more people will come forward. There is a need to bring more awareness among people, set pre-defined procedures for donation, put a follow-up mechanism in place, have a dedicated and well promoted helpline and to keep talking and writing about the need to donate eyes,� Chandak said.
In India, there are an estimated 4.6 million people with corneal blindness that is curable through corneal transplantation made possible by eye donation.
Eyes from a dead person have to be retrieved within six hours after death. The removed eyes should be implanted in the next 24 hours, or stored at an eye bank, where it could be preserved for up to 14 days only. Many harvested eyes are rendered useless as they are declared unfit for transplant.