NEW DELHI: After facing a setback for a couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the eye bank services are finally returning to normalcy. According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi, its National Eye Bank witnessed a 100% increase in corneal tissue collection and transplantation.
Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences (AIIMS) head, Dr J S Titiyal, said that the institute saw a resurgence this year in its eye bank banking services after a lull caused by Covid-19. “The NEB collected 872 tissues and 756 corneal blind patients underwent corneal transplantation between April 2021 to March 2022. This year, we witnessed 100% increase in the corneal tissue collection and transplantations as compared to the year April 2020 to March 2021,” he said.
Tiliyal also said that with the drop in Covid-19 cases, cornea collection and donation has been increasing day by day. However, he also said the backlog of patients has risen three-fold amid the pandemic. “There has been a three-fold increase in the number of patients who are registered and waiting for their transplantation surgery at our centre. Our number of surgeries performed annually dropped to one-third of what we were doing earlier,” he said.
Another major eye bank, Shroff Eye Hospital said the gap between the services compared to pre-Covid years is closing to 20%. “Things came to a halt when Covid hit the city. Eye donations were stopped and surgeries went down to zero for a few distressing months.
However, things are coming back to normal as the pandemic is phasing out. More than 80% of the cornea donation and transplantation has been achieved to the level before 2020,” said Dr Manisha Acharya, head of the cornea services. Acharya said, “We started preserving cornea in glycerine to increase the validity of the tissues which are different from the standard preservation chemical we use to store the eye tissues.”