Group raises awareness on cornea donation to eye banks

Eye- image source ophthalmologyweb

Eye- image source ophthalmologyweb

A non-government organisation, Eye Bank for Restoring Sight (EBRS), has called on Nigerians to buy into the idea of donating their cornea when they finally pass away.

The cornea is the eye’s outermost layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Its transparency permits light to pass into the eye, through the pupil, lens, and onto the retina at the back of the eye.

Speaking at a visit to Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Channel 10, Tejuoso, Lagos State, to seek for partnership with the media in sensitizing the people on the need to give consent for their corneas to be harvested at death, the Medical Director, EBRS, Dr. Mosunmade Faderin, said that there is need for people to donate their corneas to give sight to the blind in the society, adding that one doesn’t have need for it when he is dead.

She disclosed that statistics, which was carried out a few years back at Pacelli School for the Blind, revealed that about 60 per cent of the blind people at the facility wouldn’t have been there if there were corneas to transplant to them.

Faderin, who noted that 30 per cent of blindness worldwide is due to corneal-blindness, a condition which is reversible, stated that restoring sight to this category of people requires cornea transplant operation (Keratoplasty).

She noted that when the glassy part of the eye becomes opaque, light cannot get to the back of the eye for the person to see and the person becomes cornea-blind. According to her, if this part is changed, a clear one from a donor, someone who has pledged for his to be harvested at death is given to the cornea-blinded, then, vision can be restored to a living blind person.

The medical director noted that organisation was established to harvest (collect), process and distribute donor eye tissue for sight saving cornea transplants, medical education and research into causes and treatment for other eye diseases.

Revealing though that some Nigerians have benefitted from the transplant, with the bank facilitating 80 corneas, she noted that the Eye Bank is continually in need of donors.

She added that most of the tissues that the organisation has used have been accessed from overseas at a very high cost, a situation which many that need it cannot afford when the cost of the surgery is added.

A member of Board of Governors, EBRS, Very Rev. (Dr.) Yinka Omololu called on Nigerians to pledge to donate their eyes at death. According to him, the tissue is of no use to the dead, adding that a dead person’s cornea dies off after eight hours of his death.

They finally called on Nigerians to heed this call stating: “Seeing is Believing. Cornea graft surgery has an almost 98 per cent success rate and the fear of rejection is very minimal. With this, it will then make it easier to convince people to donate their corneas at death, so that even at death, they will still be relevant and you would then have given a gift that goes on living, the precious gift of sight.”

The three major layers that compose the cornea are the outer layer or epithelial layer, the middle layer termed the stroma, and finally a single layer of cells called the endothelium.

The curvature of the cornea plays an important role in focusing (refracting or bending) light. The normal cornea is smooth, clear, and tough. It helps protect the eye from infection, dust, and other foreign material.

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