The Tej Kohli Foundations Corneal Transplant Program in Gurgaon,
India, has reached a significant milestone in its outreach: 100 patients
The program was created to reduce the incidence of corneal blindness,
one of the most pervasive and preventable causes of vision loss in India.
The corneal transplant and eye donation mission, launched in June 2010,
has exceeded early expectations, Rajiv Pradhan, head of the Tej Kohli
Foundation, said in an email interview with Ocular Surgery
When the man behind the vision, Mr. Tej Kohli, spearheaded a
corneal transplant and eye donation mission in India last year, little did he
know that it was going to become one of the most successful philanthropic
ventures in North India, Mr. Pradhan said.
The programs 100th corneal transplantation recipient was treated
on Feb. 9. Mr. Pradhan and colleagues plan to help a significantly higher
number of patients in 2011.
is to do 1,000 corneal transplants in the year
ahead, Mr. Pradhan said.
The Tej Kohli Foundation is also devoted to feeding and educating
underprivileged children, supporting vocational training for people with
disabilities, improving health care in rural areas and helping women improve
their economic status.
India has about 15 million people with blindness, or about one-third of
the estimated 45 million people worldwide. There are approximately 4.6 million
people in India with corneal blindness stemming from disease or trauma; 90% are
younger than 45 years and 60% are children younger than 12 years, according to
the Tej Kohli Foundation website.
Much of the blindness in India is avoidable, and a good portion of it is
treatable, according to the website.
Corneal disease and blindness are closely associated with poverty, Mr.
|A young girl awaits a corneal transplantation procedure at the
Tej Kohli Foundations corneal transplant mission in Gurgaon, Northern
India. The charity recently marked the milestone of 100 patients treated since
Images: Tej Kohli
In India, where poverty is still widespread, corneal blindness is
most often found in those who are underprivileged, he said. Some of
the most prevalent indications of corneal transplant include severe corneal
infection, corneal degeneration, trauma, workplace injury, corneal scarring,
corneal opacity that is often secondary to cataract surgery and inherited
diseases of the cornea.
|A worker from the Tej Kohli Foundations corneal
transplant mission signs up a young patient at the foundations eye and
dental check-up camp at the Agamya School in Vasant, New Dehli.
Corneal transplant recipients vary in age, gender and geographic
location, but the typical patient is a middle-aged man from a rural area,
according to Mr. Pradhan.
Of all the patients, approximately 70% are male and 30% are
female, he said. About 10% of these patients are children below the
age of 12. Most patients are between the ages of 40 and 70 years. A majority of
them hail from the rural areas of Haryana and Rajasthan, India.
Increasing awareness, access
In April 2010, the Tej Kohli Foundation joined forces with the Niramaya
Eye Bank and Hitendra Ahooja, MD, from Ahooja Eye Hospital. The foundation
covers the cost of all corneal transplants performed at the Niramaya Eye Bank,
Mr. Pradhan said.
Currently, the program has two surgeons, three laboratory technicians
and four nurses working at one center in Northern India. Organization officials
hope to establish 40 rural vision centers in the next 5 years. Currently, there
are eight centers located in a 100 km2 radius of the national capital region,
Mr. Pradhan said.
The program is stepping up efforts to increase the donation of corneas
for use in transplantation procedures, and to raise public awareness of cornea
donation and transplantation, Mr. Pradhan said.
Our immediate goal is to generate more awareness of eye donation
and corneal transplant, he said. For this, we are in talks with
various local [non-governmental organizations], media groups and event
The foundation recently held a blindfold walk that generated an
overwhelming response from the public, Mr. Pradhan said.
The foundation has also launched a website, www.netradaan.com, to
bolster public awareness and reduce corneal blindness.
Apart from corneal transplants, we also organize free eye check-up
camps every month in the rural areas of North India, Mr. Pradhan said.
by Matt Hasson
- Rajiv Pradhan can be reached at Tej Kohli Foundation, 122, First
Floor, Vipul Agora, M.G. Road, Gurgaon 122001, India; +91-0124-466-3900;
website: www.tejkohlifoundation.com; email:
- Disclosure: Mr. Pradhan has no relevant financial disclosures.