A talk with Dr. Radhika Tandon,  office in-charge, National Eye Bank, AIIMS, New Delhi by Divya Sahu

How will rate the eye-donation process in India ?
There is lots of problems in terms of corneal blindness in India. By getting cornea transplanted a blind person can get his eye-sight back. The process of transplanted means, getting the cornea from a deceased person and later transplanting the same to a blind person. The success rate of this transplantation process is 50%. Which means if we want to give eye sight to one lakh people we will require nearly 2 lakh cornea. Last year 50 thousand cornea were donated and around 20 thousand operations took place in entire India. The figures are far too less in terms of seeing the long queue of the blind people. There is shortage of cornea in our country and in such condition, a blind person sometimes wait entire life for getting the cornea.

When there has been so many blind people in the country, then why people don’t come forward for getting the transplantation done?
There are lots of reasons. Firstly people are having myth that after the eye-donation the person face will look awkward or dangerous. Some other believe superstitiously that if the eyes are donated then that person will be born blind in the next birth. But people should understand that the eye-donation is only done after death and at that moment the body is not alive. The operation is very critical and the eye-lid are closed. Only the cornea is taken out from the body not the eyes. In small towns people are not knowing where to contact for the eye-donation. They can contact the eye-bank or even in nearest hospital for the eye-donation.

What is the field to be worked upon so that people can come forward for this noble work?
We should continuously spread the message of eye donation among people. Local government should also make effort for the process. For example in Jamaica and England they ask a question whether he/she want to donate their eyes after death or not while passing the driving license. When that has come handy and effective in the foreign countries then even India should adopt this method.
Presently the process of preparing Adhar Card is on fast process and likewise for every government card preparation the question of eye donation should be made must. Awareness can be done even through meetings in schools and in social gatherings. Efforts are underway for motivating people through TV, Radio and Newpapers. Even the hospitals should also support the cornea programme. When they are questioning from the relatives of the deceased about other issues, they can add the eye-donation part in their questionnaire.
In India its not important for a person to sign the eye donation form while he/she is alive but their close relatives can also fill and sign the form. People can inform their close relatives while they are alive that they want to donate their eyes. This will help a lot.

How can the youngsters be motivated to join this noble cause? Could the social network sites play their role in awaring people?
Yes, our youth brigade is very talented and they are having lots of suggestions and ways for motivating people. We can connect these youth to participate in the eye donation camp some or the other way. The suggestions could be in any form, whether is poem, song, slogan, poster or E-poster. The youth can create a small advertisement towards eye donation and could send the same to us so that we can use the same for your campaigning. As a routine people should also started posting “Be An Eye Donor” in their social network websites. They don’t have to fill up any forms for this noble cause. They can just ask their close relatives to be a part of this cause. Facebook, Twitter, Ibibo and other commonly used social networking sites can be handy for telling people that they have motivated their own relatives and now its their turn to do so. This will bring positive approach among people of the country.