New Era of Cornea Transplantation in Bangladesh

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IntroductionIn Bangladesh, 7.5 million people are suffering from low-vision and blindness. Out of them more than 5,00,000 people are suffering from corneal diseases and await corneal transplantation. Eye banks throughout the country are working towards collecting cadaver donor corneas to reduce corneal blindness. However, not many corneas have been collected from local sources and eye hospitals are constantly trying to acquire corneas from outside the country to improve corneal blindness situation in Bangladesh.MethodsData used in this analysis comes from the hospital records of Islamia Eye Hospital, Harun Eye foundation, Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex (CEITC), Bangladesh Eye Hospital and Sandhani International Eye Bank and CHOKH, an eye NGO in Bangladesh. The current study analysed the improvement in cornea transplantation in terms of patient’s vision, transplant cost, availability of cornea, cornea fellowship program etc.ResultsThe first eye banking and cornea transplantation program in Bangladesh started in 1984. From 1984‐2017, more than 5500 cornea transplantations took place and 3,000 of these transplants were completed during 2009‐2017. Cornea transplantation has increased 3-fold since 2009 compared to earlier times. Currently on average 500 corneas are transplanted each year. Number of corneal surgeons was only 8 in 2009 which now stands at 22. In 2009 people had to wait for years for a cornea whereas now there is no waiting time before one can get a cornea transplantation. Hospitals are now offering subsidies for transplantation for patients from low-income group. All these have resulting into increase in corneal surgery in the country. Patients now prefer to have transplantation in-country to going abroad. CHOKH, an NGO in Bangladesh, runs blindness hunting program to identify poor corneal blind people and raise funds for their transplantation.ConclusionBangladesh has experienced a remarkable improvement in terms of cornea transplantation. Numbers of corneal doctors has increased and there is frequent supply of tissues from abroad. However, little has been done to increase local availability of donor cornea in recent years and existing eye banks have not developed their program to increase the supply of cornea domestically due to shortage of fund. Though patients are getting benefited from outside tissues, we need to be cautious as this can be a great hurdle for developing eye banks and making them sustainable in Bangladesh.Vision Share, USA. Islamia Eye Hospital, Dhaka. Harun Eye Foundation, Dhaka. Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex, Chittagong. Sandhani International Eye Bank, Dhaka. Bangladesh Eye Hospital, Dhaka.

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