Karnataka Struggles to Meet Eye Transplant Demand

Published on November 1, 2023 by

Karnataka confronts a dual challenge: fulfilling the growing demand for eye transplants while addressing underutilized donated corneas.


Bengaluru: In the southern state of Karnataka, a silent extremity unfolds in the realm of healthcare. It’s a challenge that goes beyond bare figures and statistics, touching the lives of numerous individuals seeking the gift of sight. Karnataka is facing mounting difficulties in meeting the rising demand for eye transplantations, aggravated by the fact that not all bestowed eyes are changing their way to those in need.

Doctors says, the need for eye transplants has been steadily rising in Karnataka, echoing a global trend.People suffering from conditions like corneal blindness, caused by conditions or injuries, find solace in the stopgap of entering a corneal transplant to restore their vision.

“Out of all the donated eyes 60-70 percentare used in optical surgeries and the rest 30% percent are used in research work. The eyes which are damaged due to eye infection, damaged because of accidents or the patient is on a ventilator for many days then there is infiltration in the cornea so that corneas cannot be used for optical purposes,” said Veeresh MPM, manager, Dr. Rajkumar Eye Bank, Narayana Nethralaya.

Donated eyes that are not utilized for optical surgeries often find another crucial purpose in the realm of medical research. Through meticulous study and experimentation, these donated eyes offer a deeper understanding of eye-related conditions. “First we check the eye which is donated and look for any infection or such condition and if it is not used for optical grafting transplant, we even use it for therapeutic or for tectonic purpose in which we train future surgeons about cataract surgery with these eyeballs,”said Dr Sowmyalatha M., medical superintendent, Dr. M.C. Modi Eye Hospital.

The growing for corneal transplants to restore vision, coupled with a limited number of eye banks, has left many patients in a state of uncertainty. “The demand for eye transplantation is around 1.5 million and around 30-40 thousand eyes are donated overall every year, so there is a huge gap between the number of donors and the number of recipients,”said Ganesh Raj, Founder, VisionMate Foundation. But the research of the National Library of Medicine says that to get better quality eyes a research donation registry could be the possible solution, which would allow donors to associate their tissue and medical records to an ocular biobank for use by scientists who research their disease and would be easy to identify which eye could be used for surgery and research.

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