New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur Thursday pledged to donate their eyes -- on the occasion of National Eye Donation Day.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO), Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur signed a form to this effect.
The couple said in a joint statement: "We are aware that there are innumerable corneal blind patients in our country for whom the gift of sight will be a priceless one.
"We hope that people across the country will rise to the occasion and support the National Programme for Control of Blindness and help their fellow brethren."
They also lauded the National Eye Bank and corneal transplantation teams at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here and across the country for their efforts to illuminate the lives to those in need.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are 284 million visually impaired people in the world -- 39 million are blind and 245 have low vision.
About 90 percent of them live in developing countries.
Eye donation means donating one`s corneas after his or her death. In India, there are many organisations that act as eye banks that facilitate removal of corneas and distribute them to the needy.
Cornea is a clear tissue -- a focusing element -- that covers the front of the eye. People suffering from corneal blindness only can benefit from eye donations through corneal grafting.
State run telecom companies BSNL and MTNL have a toll free number 1919 all over the country to facilitate easy access to the nearest eye bank.