5,736 of the World’s Poorest People Received the Gift of Sight in 2019 at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute
On the fourth anniversary of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, the Tej Kohli Foundation has renewed its commitment of $14m of funding from 2020. During 2019 5,736 individuals were cured of blindness or severe visual impairment at The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, which is a collaboration between the Tej Kohli Foundation in London, and the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
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The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute was inaugurated in December 2015 to tackle the problem of poverty blindness by providing free treatment to anyone who needs it. Since its inauguration the Cornea Institute has taken care of 223,404 outpatients, completed 43,255 surgical procedures, collected 38,225 donor corneas into its eye bank, utilized 22,176 donor corneas, trained 152 clinicians, published 202 papers and given 892 educational presentations.
Reaching people living with blindness and severe visual impairment in the hard-to-reach rural areas where 66% of Indians live is a particular challenge that the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is uniquely solving. A unique presence of eye care centres in villages supplemented with a fully equipped mobile diagnostics van take eye care directly to hard-to-reach patients, with more than 100 corneal transplants completed so far in these rural areas.
Other 2019 operational highlights at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute included:
- 280,000 individuals called the ‘Call Netra’ toll free eye care helpline.
- A special privilege ‘Keratoplasty card’ was issued to corneal transplant patients to ensure priority check-ups and access to care anytime and anywhere.
- An education app was launched to continually assess cornea doctors in their evaluations.
- The ECHO project linked expert specialist teams with clinicians in remote local communities.
According to the World Health Organisation, 90% of those affected by blindness and severe visual impairment live in the poorest countries in the world. 14m live in India, where between 6m and 7m people are currently waiting for a corneal transplant. At least 300,000 children in India have some form of severe visual impairment or blindness.
Whilst approximately 75% of corneal disease is curable, the costs of corneal transplantation surgery using donor cornea, and the many years of medicine needed to prevent rejection, makes treatment inaccessible to many. Born out of a partnership with the LV Prasad Eye Institute and the Tej Kohli Foundation, the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is focussed on prevention, treatment and cure at no cost directly into these high-impact populations that are living needlessly with corneal blindness.
Dr Pravin K Vaddavalli, MD, Director of Tej Kohli Cornea Institute said:
“The last four years have been an opportunity to assess the magnitude of the problem of corneal blindness, create strategic partnerships to expand our reach and start to evolve ways and means to allow these patients to live longer, more productively and with dignity.”
Wendy Kohli, co-Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation said:
“It’s an uncomfortable reality that millions of people worldwide are living with curable blindness that persists entirely because they cannot afford to access treatment. The impact of restoring a person’s vision on that person’s confidence, wellbeing and economic prospects is substantial. Through the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute we are able to make direct interventions into individual lives that help and transform entire families every single day.”
About The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute
The mission of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is to prevent, control and eliminate corneal blindness worldwide. The Institute is a global leader in research and development, preventative medicine, education and cornea transplants. The Institute enables access to affordable treatment through systemic long-term efforts to create widespread access to high-quality eye care facilities that are delivered by people with the resources, technical skills and compassion to handle diverse population segments.
About LV Prasad Eye Institute
Established in 1987, the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness, is a comprehensive eye health facility. The Institute has ten active arms to its areas of operations: Clinical Services, Education, Research, Vision Rehabilitation, Rural and Community Eye Health, Eye Banking, Advocacy and Policy Planning, Capacity Building, Innovation and Product Development. LVPEI's mission is to provide equitable and quality eye care to all sections of society.
About the Tej Kohli Foundation
Founded in 2005, the Tej Kohli Foundation seeks to make interventions that transform individual lives. It is best known for its global mission to end corneal blindness worldwide. Since 2015 the Foundation has funded the provision of corneal transplants in underserved communities in India through the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute; and in 2019 the Foundation gifted $2m to Mass Eye and Ear in Boston, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, to support the development of new technologies to cure blindness. In December 2019 the Foundation launched the ‘Future Bionics’ program to gift 3D printed bionic arms to children and young people who are living with limb difference in the United Kingdom.
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