In a bid to create awareness and sensitise the people of Western Uttar Pradesh about corneal infections and eye donation, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for the first time has started a pilot project where it will cover six districts in the region.The six districts are — Meerut, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Saharanpur and Muzaffarpur. As many as 1.80 crore people will be tested.The study has been funded by the Department of Science and Technology for a period of three years. According to the doctors, the case of eye donation is very less in the region.Dr. Rajesh Sinha, professor of ophthalmology at AIIMS and principal investigator of the study said, “The flare of eye infection is high among the population of Western Uttar Pradesh. People live in poor hygiene and sanitation. Also, they are not aware of the eye donation programme.”“So, we have started a pilot project on the huge population of Western Uttar Pradesh. We wanted to sensitise the people about eye donation and make them take the pledge for donating their eyes by telling them that they would be alive even after their death,” Sinha said.“We witness a lot of patients from Uttar Pradesh as Western Uttar Pradesh is the catchment area of AIIMS. To make this study successful, we will take the help of school teachers, panchayat heads, and clerics and educators at madrasas to sensitise the people in the vicinity,” he added.Figures by the Eye Bank Association of India revealed that 74% of corneas were contributed by seven states — Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.Recently, on the occasion of the 34th National Eye Donation Fortnight celebrations, AIIMS said it had retrieved about 2,234 cornea tissues last year which stands highest till date in the last 50 years.The institute had transplanted at least 1,426 cornea tissues with 65% of utilisation rate compared nationally.