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Eye Donation: Rumors Vs Reality!

By Nikita Banerjee +2 more

Eye donation is one of the noblest acts of charity that you can do. Medical advancements have helped millions of those who have corneal blindness to be able to see. This has been possible due to the selfless acts of those who have pledged their eyes. In India, eyes donation is not a monetary exercise, and it is a complete act of charity. In most cases, the donation of eyes from one person cures blindness in two people. And yet, only five per cent of the demand is met for corneal transplants (source). This is because many myths are associated with eye donation. Read on to separate the facts from the fiction.

Myths about Eye Donation

1. Face Disfigurement

Most people do not donate eyes due to religious reasons. It is a myth that those who donate eyes will suffer face disfigurement by having holes in the place of eye sockets. In most religions, the religious texts do not mention this anywhere. Also, in the process of eye donation, only the cornea is removed and not the entire eye.

Myths and facts about eye donation

2. Blindness in Next Birth

Another religious misconception is that eye donation in this birth leads to blindness in the next one. Eye donation is an act of charity that is bound to earn blessings.

3. Ineligibility Due to The Previous History of Eye Diseases

If someone has a previous history of eye diseases like glaucoma or cataract but has been treated or operated for them, they can pledge and donate their eyes.

4. Aged People Ineligible for Eye Donation

The lower age limit to donate eyes is one year. Over and above that anyone can donate eyes. Age or mental condition is not a criterion for eye donation.

5. Quality of Eye Donation in India

It is a misconception that the eyes of Indian donors are not good enough for corneal transplants. Once the doctors have evaluated the eyes for eligibility, they can be transplanted. Age, nationality, race, caste or the colour of the eyes has no bearing on their quality.

6. Corneal Transplants Are An Experiment

Unlike the misconception that corneal transplants are still in the experimental stages and still in their infancy, these are proper medical procedures that have been regularly successful and are performed on a daily basis.

7. Consent From Relatives

Even if you have pledged your eyes after your death, your family members will be asked for their permission to conduct the procedure.

8. Length of the Procedure

It is a perpetuated myth that eye donation is a tedious process. In reality, the entire operation takes just 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Eyes Are Expensive

It is a misconception that eyes can be bought or sold. It is a total act of charity without money being involved at any step.

10. Doctors Won’t Save Your Life

This is another misconception about eye donations. Most people believe that pledging their eyes will discourage doctors from saving their lives. The doctors are dedicated to protecting the life of every patient that comes in their care. Only after death, the option of eye donation comes up.

11. Pledging Eyes Before Death

If someone hasn’t pledged their eyes before their death, it doesn’t mean that their eyes cannot be donated. The family members can volunteer for the eyes of the deceased to be donated.

Spectacle wearers, those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, etc, those who have undergone cataract surgery can also donate eyes.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Facts about Eye Donation

1. Eye Donation Has a Time Limit

Eyes can be donated only within six to eight hours after death. It takes about a quarter of an hour. It doesn’t delay funeral arrangements and nor does it prohibit the opening of the caskets at the funeral. The body is treated with respect and is not mutilated at all.

2. Anyone Can Pledge Their Eyes

Irrespective of their medical history or their age, any person can pledge their eyes. The team from the eye donation centre will determine at the time of the donor’s death if his eyes are eligible for transplant. Those who have had diabetes, glaucoma, cataract or those who wear spectacles can pledge their eyes.

Read More: How To Keep Your Eyes Healthy?

3. Contraindications For Eye Donation

There are certain situations in which people cannot donate their eyes. Those who have died or have suffered because of AIDS, septicemia, rabies, viral encephalitis, retinoblastoma, lymphoma, leukaemia amongst other medical conditions are ineligible for eye donation.

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4. Only Cornea is Transplanted

The cornea is the outer portion of the eyeball that is transparent. It transmits light to the eye and is like a protective sheet over the eye. It is this part that is used for eye donation. Since the cornea receives a limited supply of blood and gets its oxygen from the air instead of the bloodstream, it doesn’t pose problems concerning blood type matching. Also, the cornea does not have blood vessels. This makes it an ideal organ to be transplanted. Only corneal blindness can be treated with eye donations.

5. Eye Donation Works Twice Fold

The eyes donated by one person are given to two people. To decrease the rate of corneal blindness, only one eye is transplanted. Thus, just with one act of charity, two people benefit.

6. Eye Donations are Never Refused

No matter what your health condition, an eye donation is never refused. This is because even if the eyes cannot be used to provide sight to someone who has corneal blindness, they can be used for research or medical education.

7. High Success Rate of Corneal Transplants

The success rate of corneal transplants is very high. More than 90% of operations can restore sight to the person.

The cornea is the past part of the eye that is most frequently donated and transplanted. The rest of the eye is equally as important as the cornea in saving the eyesight, helping find cures and treatment for eye disorders and thus a reliance on donated eyes.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D

Importance of Eye Donation

Blindness is a major cause of concern around the world today. According to WHO, after cataracts and glaucoma, blindness is mostly caused by corneal impairments. Most of these impairments are curable, especially through eye donation, which refers to donating one’s eyes after death. Just like any other body organ, the cornea of the eye can also be donated after death which will render vision to the blind.

Though all organs of the body are equally significant, the eyes can somehow be considered a little more special. It renders us vision and lets us enjoy the aesthetics that the world has to offer. However, due to several kinds of visual impairments, many people lose their vision and the world turns dark for them. We can give them the gift of light by a simple step of eye donation.

Eye donation is an act of donating one’s eyes after his/her death. It is an act of charity, purely for the benefit of society and is totally voluntary. The eye donation of the deceased can be authorized by the next of kith & kin even if the deceased did not pledge to donate his or her eyes before death. Age or systemic illness such as diabetes or hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease is not barriers to eye donations. The corneas of a person are unaffected even if they have undergone any eye surgeries in the past and hence will be useful can be transplanted in others.

Donated eyes can be used to restore vision in people who are suffering from corneal blindness. The front, clear and transparent tissue of the eye called the cornea can be used to restore vision in a corneal blind person. The other portions of the eye are also used for research and training purposes to develop cures for some of the common eye diseases. From each pair of donated eyes, two blind people will get vision and light into their life, thus making it more divine.


Eye donation doesn’t use money at any step, and this makes it the most generous act of charity. Without any effort, it can help reduce blindness in the world.

Also Read: 10 Best Foods for Eye Health

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