Attitudes and Perception Towards Eye Donation in Patients with Corneal Disease: A Case-controlled Population-based Study

<p><b>Purpose</b>: To assess awareness, barriers, and misconceptions related to eye donation in people with corneal disease as compared to controls in a population setting.</p> <p><b>Materials and Methods</b>: A population-based study was conducted in 25 randomly selected clusters of Rural Gurgaon, Haryana, India, as part of the CORE (Cornea Opacity Rural Epidemiological) study. In addition to ophthalmic examination, knowledge and perceptions regarding eye donation were assessed through a validated questionnaire. The questionnaire captured the sociodemographic factors influencing awareness regarding eye donation in participants with corneal disease and twice the number of age- and gender-matched controls recruited from the same study clusters. Descriptive statistics were computed along with multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine associated factors for awareness of eye donation.</p> <p><b>Results</b>: In the CORE study, 452 participants had corneal opacities on ocular examination. Of these, 442 were assessed for eye donation awareness. Additionally, 884 age- and gender-matched controls were recruited. The mean age of cases and controls was 60.9 ± 15.5 and 59.6 ± 14.3 years, respectively. Awareness of eye donation in cases and controls was 46.4% (<i>n</i> = 205 of 442) and 52.3% (<i>n</i> = 462 of 884), respectively (<i>P</i> = 0.044). Educational status was an important factor determining knowledge about eye donation in both cases and controls (P = < 0.001). Major barriers reported for not pledging eyes were lack of willingness (36.7%) and ignorance (15.3%). Common misconceptions like eyes could be donated before death or even after 24 h of death and that any type of blindness could be treated with corneal transplantation were prevalent.</p> <p><b>Conclusions</b>: The study demonstrated that although there is substantial awareness about eye donation, there are numerous barriers in this population that need to be resolved to improve donation rates. Additional efforts are needed to translate this awareness into actual eye donation in both cases with corneal disease and controls.</p>