Context: Corneal diseases constitute a significant cause of visual impairment and blindness in the developing world. The number of corneal transplants done is far less than the actual requirement in India. This is largely due to the inadequate number of corneas collected. Well-informed nursing students could be expected to influence eye donation rates.
Aims: To assess the awareness and perception of 188 first- and second-year nursing students towards eye donation in Bangalore.
Settings and design: Cross-sectional study design.
Materials and methods: A pretested, semi-structured questionnaire.
Statistical analysis used: Data were analyzed using the Epi-Info software package, Version 6.04.
Results: The majority (96.8%) of students knew that eyes can be donated after death but only 38.2% knew that the ideal time of donation was within 6 hours of death. Most participants (85.1%) were either willing or had already donated their eyes. Nobility in the act of eye donation was the main motivational force for eye donation according to 85.6% of students. Perceived reasons for not pledging eyes by the students were: the unacceptable idea of separating the eyes from the body (67.9%), lack of awareness (42.8%), objection by family members (28.5%), and unsuitability to donate because of health problem (10.7%).
Conclusion: This study revealed that nursing students were well aware of eye donations and most of them were inclined to sign-up for eye donation. The perceived reasons for not donating eyes need to be considered while creating awareness about eye donation in the community. The nursing students could be actively involved as volunteers in eye donation campaigns and they can act as counsellors for eye donors. They can also contribute by participating in creating awareness and motivating people to become eye donors.
Keywords: Corneal transplantation; diminished vision; eye donation; nursing students.