5,736 of the World’s Poorest People Received the Gift of Sight in 2019 at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute

Source: 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 $14 million of funding from 2020. During 2019, 5,736 individuals were cured of blindness or severe visual impairment at The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, according to news release. The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is a collaboration between the Tej Kohli Foundation in London, and the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, a World Health Organization Collaborating Center.

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 centers 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 Organization, 90% of those affected by blindness and severe visual impairment live in the poorest countries in the world— 14 million live in India, where between 6 million and 7 million 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.

“The last 4 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,” Pravin K Vaddavalli, MD, Director of Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, said in the news release.

“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,” Wendy Kohli, co-Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation, said. “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.”

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