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Eye donations increase from 2009-13, but rise in unused Eyes too, says AIIMS data

According to Delhi-based opthalmologists, nearly 60 per cent of the eye donations go to waste in India

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Human eyes in paraffin blocks(Representational Image)
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  • According to Delhi-based opthalmologists, nearly 60 per cent of the eye donations go to waste in India
  • The removed eyes should be implanted in the next 24 hours, or stored at an eye bank, where it could be preserved for up to 14 days only
  • Visually impaired surely can donate their corneas if they are not corneal blind 

New Delhi, October 14, 2016: Even as the number of eye donations has increased from 680 in 2009 to 1,321 in 2013, the proportion of unused eyes has also increased from 185 to 400 in the same period, data from AIIMS showed.

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More than 2.5 lakh blind people in India could regain eyesight if majority of the Indian hospitals start conducting eye transplants, showed statistics recently released by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

According to Delhi-based opthalmologists, nearly 60 per cent of the eye donations go to waste in India.

“Usually when the eyes are donated they either get infected with diseases, or are not stored in the eye banks on time. The biggest problem is that the window lapses as eyes from a dead person have to be retrieved within six hours after death,” said Amit Singhal, opthalmologist consultant at city based Sharp Sight Group of Eye Hospitals.

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According to him, the removed eyes should be implanted in the next 24 hours, or stored at an eye bank, where it could be preserved for up to 14 days only. Many harvested eyes are rendered useless as they are declared unfit for transplant.

Data from the Health Ministry has revealed that 51,354 eyes were donated in 2013-14, of which only 22,384 were used for transplant. The numbers have remained dismal over the past few years, with more than 50 per cent of the donated eyes going to waste.

“There is a need for young people to be encouraged to donate their eyes, as older people mostly have some or the other health ailments due to which their eyes are not fit to be transplanted. Every donated eye is checked for various diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) before implantation,” said Singhal, adding that despite all these arrangements, it is difficult to use all the donated eyes as eyes of old people in the age group of 70-80 are of least use due to blurred cornea.

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Stating that visually impaired people can also donate their eyes if they are not corneal blind, a leading Delhi-based opthalmologist Samir Sud said: “In our country we need to encourage visually impaired people to come forward for eye donations and dispel a common myth that a blind person cannot donate his eyes.”

“Visually impaired surely can donate their corneas if they are not corneal blind because in India we have an estimated 4.6 million people with corneal blindness that is curable through corneal transplantation made possible by eye donation,” Sud added.

Experts also said that though there’s no dearth of people willing to donate their eyes in India, more transplants can’t be conducted due to a shortage of eye bank technicians and eye donation counsellors. (IANS)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393