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L V Prasad Eye Institute sets new world record

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Hyderabad, April 11, 2017: The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) has created history once again in the field of Corneal Transplantation with its Hyderabad campus becoming the first ever in the world to perform 2043 corneal transplants in a single year (April 2016 - March 2017). This is a record for the highest ever corneal transplant surgeries from a single centre, anywhere in the world.

Since its inception, the institute's Hyderabad campus has notched up over 23,901 corneal transplant surgeries thus far. The Ramayamma International Eye Bank at the campus harvested a whopping 7166 corneas this financial year, and distributed 3810 corneas to corneal surgeons across the country.

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. An estimated 80 per cent of blindness globally could either be prevented or treated. The dedicated Ophthalmic Cornea Institute at LVPEI –the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute - has enabled the team to invest in research of new materials and application techniques to eliminate corneal blindness. 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 27 years, LVPEI has worked greatly towards increasing the collection of transplantable donor corneas and elevating eye banking performance standards in India, as well as, 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. Going forward, new research and cutting edge techniques at the institute are expected to augment transplant surgeries in using synthetic corneas, and reduce the conventional dependency on donor corneas. LVPEI has also been very active with stem cell based treatment of corneal diseases, besides research in biosynthetic cornea as well as liquid cornea. The Institute’s world-class Cornea specialists treat corneal infections using sophisticated laboratory techniques and medicines to prevent corneal scarring, and thus the need for future corneal transplantation.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Gullapalli N Rao - Founder and Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute, said, when I came back to set up this institute in 1986 as a trained corneal transplant surgeon from USA, virtually everyone here advised me to concentrate on Cataract surgeries and that corneal transplant surgeries don't work here, because nobody donates eyes in India and donated corneal transplants don't work in Indian eyes. I am happy that I didn't listen to them and today 30 years later here we are with a world record, having done nearly 24000 corneal transplants, the highest anywhere in the world, no organisation in the world has done this and also that last year alone we exceeded 2000 corneal transplants, the highest ever corneal transplant surgeries from a single centre in a year. It never happened anywhere in the history of corneal transplants in the world, he said. This gives immense confidence to everybody in our country, that we can create history if we set our sight on it. In the past 18 months we have taken corneal transplants to our rural centers at Adilabad, Prakasam, Mahaboobnagar and Nellore. Our surgeons go there and do corneal transplants and our doctors there are trained to take care of them. It is matter of great pride that Hyderabad and Telangana states are the only City and state in the country to have no waiting list for corneal transplants.

We have trained two-third of all corneal transplant surgeons in the country, which is 300 of the 450 corneal transplant surgeons India has. Our country needs more trained surgeons, as currently we are doing 30000 corneal transplants per year against 1 lakh to be done, which needs 20000 corneal surgeons. We trained several from the developing world from Mexico to Indonesia, even right now we have surgeons from Mexico, Africa, Myanmar getting trained. Our vision is to do 10000 corneal transplants per year by 2020 and are working towards it. We have the number 1 eye bank in Asia, it is the biggest and most sophisticated eye bank in all of Asia, even Japan doesn't have this. But our vision is to be the Number 1 eye bank in the world by 2020. In research we compete with the best in the world, Dr Rao added.

Congratulating his team on this major feat, Dr. G N Rao said, “Organ donation is a major challenge in India, and to achieve this world record, while we are still creating awareness about eye donation, is even more commendable. This achievement should help raise the confidence that organ donation and transplantation in India can potentially touch record volumes, given a dedicated team approach and strategy.” The cornea team at LVPEI has contributed to the evolution of modern eye banking and specialized cornea care in India. “This is an ongoing process in our efforts to create more milestones in the coming years towards our mission of alleviating avoidable blindness in India and the world,” Dr Rao further added.

A whole gamut of specialized activities at the backend go into achieving the remarkable world record outcomes at LVPEI: (1) creating social awareness regarding eye donation through events and talks at educational institutes, organizations, residential townships, and engaging with the press and digital media; (2) initiatives such as the first Hospital Cornea Retrieval Program that involves counselors to be trained and placed in large multispecialty hospitals, which was first started at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), an initiative that has resulted in significantly higher yields of donor tissues; (3) fellowship training for ophthalmologists, and eye bank training programs for technicians, counselors and managers; (4) in-house manufacture of a cost effective, indigenous storage medium to preserve the harvested corneas that is supplied by LVPEI to all eye banks across India and the neighbouring countries; (5) cutting edge technology such as the Specular Microscope to evaluate donor tissue’s suitability for transplantation and the Asia-Pacific region’s first ‘Pre-cut’ tissue centre that reduces overall cost and improves quality of transplantations; (6) lobbying with policy makers to influence better standards of eye banking in India, publishing peer reviewed papers on outcomes and making international presentations.

About Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB)
The Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB) is the largest provider of sight restoring corneas in India and a SightLife Center of Excellence in Eye Banking. Since its establishment in 1989, RIEB has greatly increased the collection of transplantable donor corneas and elevated eye banking performance standards in India, and other parts of Asia and the developing world. As a leader in eye banking across Asia, RIEB has contributed significantly to the effective networking and proliferation of eye banks through promotion of community eye banking programs. Corneas collected from donors are used both in-house and distributed to other centres. The cost-effective medium used to store corneas – the MK Medium - is manufactured at RIEB and sent to other needy eye banks in India and other neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mongolia and Kenya. RIEB offers certificate courses to different cadres of eye bank personnel.

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. For more information, visit www.lvpei.org 

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