Abstract

Background: Diseases affecting the cornea constitute a major cause of blindness. Corneal transplantation offers the potential for sight restoration. Due to non-availability of healthy cornea, many people continue to live in a dark world.
Objectives: To assess the awareness and perception of undergraduate medical students towards eye donation.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate medical students of Kolkata on August 2010 using a pre-designed, pre-tested, semi-structured, self-administered questionnaire. The data were analyzed using Epi-info software package version 6.04.
Results: Almost all (98.9%) participants knew that eyes can be donated and 70.8% were aware at the time of eye collection. However, only 43.7% respondents knew whom to approach for pledging their eyes for donation; 80.7% were either willing (76.0%) or had already pledged (4.7%) to donate their eyes. Television was the major source (78.1%) of information on eye donation. Nobility was the main motivation (87.7%) and 75.5% felt the need for helping the blind. Of these medical students, 19.3% were unaware and did not pledge eye donation due to objection by family members and dislike of the idea of separating their eyes.
Conclusion: The present study revealed that medical students were well aware of eye donation with a favorable attitude towards it and most of them were inclined to pledge for eye donation. The perceived reasons for not donating eyes need to be considered while creating awareness about eye donation in the community. Students can be actively involved as volunteers in eye donation campaigns and after proper training in counselling techniques, they can act as counsellors for eye donation activities.