The Tej Kohli Foundation commits USD $5 million over next five years for curing corneal blindness
Hyderabad, December 11, 2015: L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in partnership with Dr May Griffith and her team of scientists from the Linköping University, Sweden, and with the financial backing of Tej Kohli and his Foundation, is proud to announce the inauguration of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute at LVPEI in Hyderabad. The Centre was inaugurated by Sri ESL Narasimhan, Hon’ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. Also present were Guests of Honour Sri K T Rama Rao, Hon’ble Minister for Panchayat Raj & IT, Telangana, and Sri Charlakola Laxma Reddy, Minister for Health, Telangana.
An estimated 80 per cent of blindness globally could either be prevented or treated. The objective of the partnership is to further invest in the research of new materials and their application techniques to eliminate corneal blindness. Working together with the hospital and The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is world renowned Dr May Griffith and her team, leaders in the field of ophthalmic research and the development of innovative new technologies that will allow moving away from relying on cornea donations for transplant surgeries to using synthetic cornea lenses. Groundbreaking research at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute is also expected to create longer term broader ophthalmic solutions going beyond just corneal blindness, and working on the broader application of materials and technical advances that will take ophthalmology to a new era.
The Tej Kohli Foundation’s support of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute (TKCI) is a long-term commitment that will move more rapidly towards eliminating the social burden of avoidable blindness. The TKCI will also explore revolutionary medical advances and their wider application across the field of ophthalmology.
According to Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder and Chairman, LVPEI, “We are proud of our long standing history and global reputation in the area of ophthalmology. We have spent over 27 years working with leading specialists in their given field, to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients. This is a vital opportunity to extend this work as new technologies can be implemented to help in reducing corneal blindness. L V Prasad Eye Institute has created history in the field of Corneal Transplantation by becoming the first single Institute ever in the world to achieve 20,000 corneal transplants across its network. Through the new Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, and with Dr May Griffith and her team, we are now able to go beyond this and explore the use of synthetic lenses. With this new Institute, we hope to enhance our activities significantly both directly and indirectly as well as developing a Global Resource Centre for corneal blindness. This means being able to increase the number of surgeries we can undertake and work towards our own goal of eliminating avoidable blindness. This philanthropic gesture of Mr Kohli opens up all these possibilities.”
Corneal disease is a major cause of blindness in India. Of the 10 million blind in India, 1.1 million are blind in both eyes due to corneal disease, injury or infection. Corneal transplantation is the only known cure for corneal blindness, which is made possible by the donation of healthy corneas by individuals upon their death. Over the past 25 years, LVPEI has worked to greatly increase the collection of transplantable donor corneas and elevate eye banking performance standards in India, other parts of Asia and the developing world. The institute’s expert cornea surgeons have been able to achieve exceptional outcomes of transplantation surgeries thanks in large measure to the high standards of eye banking, besides their own world class training and expertise.
“This is a seminal moment for myself and my team as we take the world of ophthalmology into the future. I have tirelessly sought to find new ways that will alleviate the simple forms of blindness, whilst looking at the wider possibilities. With the Tej Kohli Foundation’s long-term financial commitment, we are now in a position to strategically plan for the future, both in terms of the necessary time line research it takes and the evolution of new products and techniques,” said Dr May Griffith, Professor of Regenerative Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden.
International businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Tej Kohli, Chairman of Kohli Ventures and Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation said, “The Tej Kohli Foundation has long been committed to the eradication of blindness and with our 2030 plan for eradicating corneal blindness in India, we are aiming to do so within a specific time frame. Operating our own programme of cornea transplants in local communities, has given us a deep understanding of what is needed and what is possible.
This is a natural progression for the Tej Kohli Foundation. We recognize the continuing necessity to not just research new technological advances, but the essential support needed for families and communities that will allow them to embrace a positive future. Currently, for people who are blighted by blindness and other ophthalmic issues, it prevents them from participating in society and for many it means being cast out due to their lack of ability to contribute financially. We must not allow this to continue in the 21st century. It is our duty to step in and support with passion, pride, hard work and a guarantee of financial commitment.”
About the Tej Kohli Foundation
The Tej Kohli Foundation was founded in 2005 by Tej Kohli and his wife Wendy as an autonomous, non-profit organization that does not accept donations. Areas of work include treating and preventing corneal blindness and the Foundation’s road map to eliminate blindness by 2030, extending educational opportunities, offering midday meals for malnourished children, vocational training for the physically disabled, improving the health of rural communities and empowering women. The Tej Kohli Foundation is funding the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute (TKCI) where advances in ophthalmology and treatment are being undertaken to eliminate blindness. The Tej Kohli Foundation currently operates in Costa Rica, India and Africa, whilst constantly exploring new countries where they can have the most impact on society at large. The Foundation is supported through the success of Kohli Ventures and the skills and intellectual capital provided by its senior management team – (www.Tejkohlifoundation.com)
About L V Prasad Eye Institute
The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) was established in 1986-87 at Hyderabad as a not-for-profit, non-government, public-spirited, comprehensive eye care institution. LVPEI is governed by two trusts: the Hyderabad Eye Institute and the Hyderabad Eye Research Foundation. The Institute is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness and a Global Resource Center for VISION 2020: The Right to Sight initiative. LVPEI has six active arms to its areas of operations namely Clinical Services, Education, Research, Rehabilitation and Sight Enhancement Services, Eye Bank, and Public Health and Rural Outreach – (www.lvpei.org)
For further information, please contact:
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
Head - Communications & Corporate Relations, L V Prasad Eye Institute
Tel: +91 040 23547254, +91 040 30612444; Mobile: +91 9849171895