We are one of the fastest growing economies in the world today; ironically, we also shoulder one of the largest populations of the visually impaired. There are almost 52 million visually impaired people and 270,000 blind children in India. That’s almost one-fourth the world’s blind population living in India. For the more academically oriented, as some economist pointed out, this could mean a cumulative loss of over $ 11.1 billion to our GNP! It is this kind of a grave situation that made the government initiate a first of its kind, dedicated program for the eradication of unnecessary blindness. However, even such programs are meager when compared to the magnitude of the problem.
According to Indian council of Medical Research (ICMR) study on blindness show that about 25% of the total blind in India are blind due to corneal blindness. we require really a large number of people to donate their eyes if we want to treat these patients.There is a huge gap between the supply and demand of eyes – supply being 10% of demand! And in a country like India this gap is ever increasing.
How bad is the situation?
Open our eyes to this. Out of the 9,500,000 deaths that occurred in the country last year, only a mere 10,000 had opted for eye donations. This is in contrast to the demand of about one million eyes per annum. Why this lack of concern? Well, some experts like to believe that such a callous attitude on part of society is due to a lack of a concerted effort on a national scale by everyone who needs to be involved, namely, professionals, the media, Government, voluntary organizations and civil society at large.
Then, there are superstitions and strange beliefs to contend with: The belief that one will be born disfigured or blind in the next birth if eyes are removed before cremation / burial. The misconception that the process of eye donation involves hassles like taking the dead person to the hospital and waiting for procedures...
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