“People Should Come Forward For Eye Donation”- Punjab Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh: To create mass public awareness about the importance of eye donation and to motivate people to pledge their eyes for donation after death, the Punjab Government is going to observe ‘36th Eye Donation Fortnight’ from 25th August to 8th September.

Giving details in press statement, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that blindness is one of the major public health problems in our country. According to World Health Organization, corneal diseases (tissue covering the front of eye is called cornea) are among the major causes of vision loss and blindness, after cataract and glaucoma. He said that loss of sight due to corneal damage can be corrected through ‘Eye Donation”. A corneal blind person can see again through a surgical procedure known as Corneal Transplantation or Keratoplasty, where the damaged cornea is replaced by a healthy cornea from the donor eye. There are a total of 31 registered eye banks and Cornea Transplantation centres in Punjab.

Health Minister appealed to the people of Punjab to come forward and pledge their eyes for donation after death and participate in the noble deed of giving the gift of sight to a needy and stressed upon the urgent need to strengthen IEC (Information Education and Communication) component through Mass Media including digital media where we will be able to motivate the general public and retrieve more and more corneas.

Director Health Services Dr. G.B. Singh while informing about the activities to be undertaken during this fortnight stated that myths and misconceptions relating to eye donation will be busted through awareness. Eye donation pledge forms are available in all District Hospitals, Sub-Division Hospitals and Vision Centres. He said that moreover now people can pledge to donate their eyes by simply registering online by logging on to the website https://nhm.punjab.gov.in/Eye_Donation/form1.php. After completion of the registration they can download and print their registration form.

Program Officer N.P.C.B.V.I. (National Program for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment) Dr. Neeti Singla said that detailed guidelines have been issued to all the civil surgeons in Punjab to organize IEC activities during the fortnight to spread the message and to create awareness. The target is to clear the backlog of all the corneal blind patients. The cornea collection and transplantation has been hit hard in the past one year due to Covid-19 pandemic. Inspite of the ongoing pandemic 417 Keraroplasty surgeries have been successfully conducted in the state in the year 2020-21.

It is pertinent to mention here that in our country we have an estimated 46 lakh people with corneal blindness and approximately 54000 eyes are collected annually whereas requirement is of 1.5 lakh per year.