Naidu pushes for awareness campaigns on eye donation

By Special Correspondent

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday called for dispelling myths and false beliefs on eye donation and suggested launching of massive multimedia campaigns in local languages in every State by involving celebrities and icons to create awareness among the people.

Speaking at the 36th National Eye Donation Fortnight celebrations, he referred to the huge gap between demand of donor cornea tissues and supply. “It is unfortunate that so many people are suffering from corneal blindness because of lack of donor cornea tissues for transplant. The need of the hour is to increase awareness among people about the importance of eye donation”, he added.

Observing that many people are not coming forward to donate the eyes of their deceased family members due to myths and false beliefs, Mr. Naidu said that people should be made aware that the noble act of donating their eyes would enable people with corneal blindness to see the beautiful world by restoring their vision.

Meanwhile, the R.P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS has initiated a study to ascertain the presence of COVID-19 in parts of the eye of those who have died due to the infection, the centre’s chief J.S. Titiyal said.

He said the study will help ascertain the presence of the virus in the cornea, optic nerve and retina of COVID-19 infected deceased. Doctors noted that there is no proven evidence so far which establishes any direct link between COVID-19 leading to blindness.

Eye banking services have been one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Titiyal said.

Namrata Sharma of the R P Centre said that tissue retrieval is performed only from COVID-19 presumed negative donors, according to established eye banking guidelines.

“To ensure maximum safety, we perform a post-mortem nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR testing for all our potential donors. Of the tissues retrieved by us between July 2020 and July 2021, we found that 5.5% of the presumed COVID-19 negative donors tested positive for SARS-CoV2,” Dr. Sharma said.

The tissues from these donors were not used for corneal transplantation and were subjected to further microbiological analysis, she added.


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