November 15, 2011
School of Medicine, Kochi
The Amrita Eye Bank was inaugurated on November 12, 2011 at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences by the Honorable Kerala Minister for PWD, Sri. Ibrahim Kunju.
With this, the city of Kochi, received its first-ever eye bank.
The bank will help restore vision to those suffering from corneal blindness. In India, there are millions of such unfortunate individuals.
“All of us can, in fact, donate our eyes,” emphasized Dr. Gopal S. Pillai, Professor and Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Amrita School of Medicine, speaking on the occasion.
“If we pledge our eyes, then posthumously they can be taken within six hours after death to help restore sight to two blind people.”
“A state-of-the-art eye bank in Kochi city was a dream that has now been realized,” stated Mr. P. I. Sheikh Pareed, the Honorable District Collector of Kochi, also speaking at the inauguration.
The eye bank will now commence its services, serving the needy, 365 days of the year, 24 hours each day.
Harvested eyes of the dead will be preserved and used to restore vision by performing corneal transplants.
The state-of-the-art equipment and facilities at the Amrita Eye Bank include specular microscopy, automated lamellar keratoplasty machine and cryo-preservation of minus 70 degrees.
Also inaugurated on the same day, were two other ophthalmic service initiatives – the Amrita-Lions Free Cataract Surgery Program and the Amrita Free Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program.
The first, the Amrita-Lions Free Cataract Surgery Program will offer free cataract surgeries to one hundred and fifty deserving patients. Lions Vasantbhai Choksi, T.A. Varkey and Gopal Bajaj were present at the inauguration.
Cataract is a very common cause of blindness, but is completely curable. The program will make available a simple surgery procedure to help restore vision to many.
The Amrita Free Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program will screen for diabetic retinopathy in patients having diabetes. With the increasing number of eye threatening complications in the eyes due to diabetes, the program will enable early detection as well as prompt treatment of diabetic retinopathy.
“Diabetic retinopathy is a silent assassin; it destroys vision. The only way to prevent it is to identify the disease early. That is what we are trying to do by offering free screening for diabetic retinopathy to all diabetic patients,” explained Dr. Gopal S. Pillai.
As part of the inauguration, awareness classes were conducted by Dr. Anil Radhakrishnan, the cornea and refractive surgery specialist and Dr. Natasha Radhakrishnan, the vitreoretinal specialist.
A skit was performed by staff and students of the Departments of Endocrinology and Ophthalmology to reiterate the need to fight against diabetes and eye diseases.