" The country that supplies eyes (Corneas)Dated : 01/01/1970, 00:00 AM
To restore sight to damaged eyes, doctors often need to transplant the cornea - the transparent covering of the iris and the pupil - from a donor's dead body. There is a worldwide shortage, but one country, Sri Lanka, is doing its best to satisfy demand, without seeking any reward - at least in this life.
Bandages cover Paramon Malingam's right eye. A tear appears in the left one. It is the relief of a very lucky man. "I thought I was going to live the rest of my life with one eye," he says.
Thirteen years ago, Malingam, a shop owner from central Sri Lanka, cut his eye with steel wire. Last year, he injured the same eye with a piece of wood. After both accidents, a new cornea from a donor saved his sight.
The cornea is the clear front part of the eye, which lets in light and helps focus images on the retina.
When it's damaged, as a result of injury or disease, a person's sight deteriorates, sometimes to the point of blindness.
Often the only solution is a transplant, but in many countries donated corneas are in short supply - a situation aggravated by the fact that they have a brief shelf-life.
Harvesting of the eye must happen within a few hours of death and the cornea itself must be used on a patient within about four weeks, depending on the storage method."