Pune: Tabrez, a 10-year-old boy from Sangli with bilateral blindness recently was gifted eyesight. He underwent keratoplasty or eye transplant on December 16 last year and now can see with both eyes to some extent.
However, for many young patients on the eye transplant list, it is difficult to get a younger cornea, said city-based eye specialists, which is a cause of concern. Explaining how cornea from the an old patient cannot help in such cases, Dr Chitra Sambhare from Jehangir Hsopital, who did the transplant surgery, said, “There is a back layer of cells in the cornea which does not regenerate and is important to keep the cornea clean. With age these cells wear out and so for younger children we need young corneas.”
She said it is important to get a transplant done as soon as possible as the eye muscles can get lazy. “If the transplant is not done soon, the optic nerve gets lazy and even transplantation cannot restore vision. After the transplantation, a lot of time is needed for visual rehabilitation,” said Dr Sambhare. While explaining about this patient, Dr Sambhare said the young boy got corneal opacity and lost vision in both eyes.
“Infection, severe vitamin A deficiency, injury and chuna packet injury are common reasons for eyesight loss at younger age. In this particular case, there is corneal opacity which basically means that the cornea becomes hazy. We witness at least 10 to 12 cases every year of corneal opacity,” said Dr Sambhare.
She said the boy had corneal opacity in both eyes due to infection when he was four years old and has been blind since age five. “There are many problems children face because of blindness. They develop psychological problems as they get cut off from others their age,” said Dr Sambhare.
Speaking about the need for more corneas, Dr Samita Moolani, eye specialist from Moolani Eye Care Center (MECC), told Sakal Times that more grief counsellors at hospitals can motivate families of brain dead patients to donate corneas.
“There are many families who opt for not donating the vital organs. In such cases, the role of grief counselors becomes vital and many small hospitals and government hospitals still do not have people who can help these families in grief to donate the vital organs and give a new lease of life to someone else,” said Dr Moolani.
Need for more donors
† According to statistics by Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC), Pune between January 1 and March 1 this year, there have been 15 donors, who donated 22 cornea.
† Dr Samita Moolani said though the number of organ donors has increased, there still is a grave need to get more donors.
† Dr Moolani gave the example of Sri Lanka where cornea donation is in excess. “Sri Lanka helps Singapore by sending excess corneas there,” said Dr Moolani.