Joining forces with Netradaan and Niramaya Eye Bank, the Tej Kohli Foundation is working to raise awareness of the need for corneal transplants throughout India.

PirateCredit: Morgue File - Dee

Corneal blindness occurs when damage to the cornea occurs, obscuring the vision. Many things, including accidents, disease and malnutrition, can cause this. The surgery is a fairly simple procedure: the damaged cornea is removed and then replaced by a functioning cornea that was received by a corneal donor. The recovery period is generally a short one. The success rate of a transplant surgery is over 90 per cent.

Advances in corneal transplant surgery have progressed to the point now that one corneal donation will replace two damaged corneas. The removal of the donated cornea must be done in a timely fashion and taken to an eye bank. There are eye banks all over the world and any information a donor may need to consider prior to donation can be found on the website of the eye bank or with a telephone call.

The problem with corneal transplants in India is not necessarily the cost. The Tej Kohli has partnered with Netradaan and the Niramaya Eye Bank to fully fund the cost of corneal transplant surgery for needy patients in India. The problem lies in a lack of donated corneas to be used in the transplant surgeries.

Currently only about 35,000 corneas are collected in India each year. While that number may sound like a lot, it is not nearly high enough to keep up with the demand for transplantable corneas. In order to combat this curable form of blindness, approximately 150,000 corneas need to be collected in India alone yearly. Which means that India is trying to operate with a 77 percent deficit in collections.

Due to this shortage of donated corneas, the patient waiting list continues to grow longer each and every day. Raising awareness of this need for donations of usable corneas is crucial in the war to fight corneal blindness. It is a shame that people in need of this surgery are being denied having their vision restored just because there are not enough donations. Especially when these companies have joined together to provide the services at no charge.

India is not alone in not having enough donations; organ donation is a worldwide problem. And it is not because we don’t care, it is simply because many of us are not aware of the problem. We should all consider donating our corneas and giving back the gift of sight.