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KERARUN 2017 by LV Prasad Eye Institute

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Hyderabad, December 16, 2017: On the sidelines of KERACON 2017, the annual meeting of the Cornea Society of India in Hyderabad, Tej Kohli Cornea Institute (TKCI), a unit of LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad curated and organized 'KERARUN' today. “KERARUN” was an opportunity for reputed corneal surgeons to show solidarity in the broader vision to eliminate avoidable corneal blindness.

The RUN was flagged off from Novotel Airport by at 6 AM. The hour long RUN circumvented the road towards the Srisailam highway along the GMR airport complex and culminated at 7 AM. The RUN witnessed participation from over 500 delegates including 25 international faculty, such as the Presidents of the Cornea Society of India, Asia and the World along with several other leading cornea surgeons from India and abroad.

The Cornea Society of India (CSI) was formed to stay up to date with recent developments and to share knowledge and experience as a group both at the national and international level. The CSI aims to formulate current practice patterns, facilitate fellowships and encourage scientific discussions with a primary goal to enhance patient care and management.

It is estimated that there are 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired. Corneal blindness is estimated to be the second most prevalent cause of blindness in many less developed countries. Globally, bilateral corneal blindness is estimated to afflict 4.9 million persons and accounts for 12% of 39 million blind, utilizing WHO 2010 global blindness data. The global breakdown illustrates the particularly heavy burden of corneal blindness in emerging and developing countries, with 98% of bilateral corneal blindness existing outside of developed countries.

About L V Prasad Eye Institute

The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) was established in 1987 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 Centre for VISION 2020: The Right to Sight initiative. LVPEI has ten active arms to its areas of operations namely Clinical Services, Education, Research, Vision Rehabilitation, Rural and Community Eye Health, Eye Banking, Advocacy and Policy Planning, Capacity Building, Innovation and Product Development. For further information:(www.lvpei.org)

About Corneal Blindness

  1. What is corneal blindness?

It is estimated that there are 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired. Corneal blindness is estimated to be the second most prevalent cause of blindness in many less developed countries. Globally, bilateral corneal blindness is estimated to afflict 4.9 million persons and accounts for 12% of 39 million blind, utilizing WHO 2010 global blindness data. The global breakdown illustrates the particularly heavy burden of corneal blindness in emerging and developing countries, with 98% of bilateral corneal blindness existing outside of developed countries. To understand the true magnitude of corneal blindness, the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) probably outstrips that caused by cataract, since corneal blindness occurs in a relatively younger population. To add to the burden of corneal blindness, unilateral corneal blindness is estimated to afflict 23 million people worldwide, about the size of the entire population of Australia.

  1. How is corneal blindness prevented?

Trachoma, corneal opacities, and onchocerciasis along with corneal infections, Vitamin A deficiency and trauma account for the major causes of corneal blindness. In addition to preventive strategies for these chief contributors,

corneal transplantation remains as the primary intervention to treat corneal blindness. Preventive strategies include environmental modifications, antibiotic prophylaxis and dietary supplements. However, education and training of corneal surgeons will be a force multiplier in the preventive and therapeutic strategy by improving the recognition and early treatment of these conditions.

  1. Can you please outline the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute (TKCI) and LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI)’s vision to control corneal blindness globally by 2030?

Tej Kohli Cornea Institute’s strategy to prevent blindness is planned in three phases. Initially it would include capacity building and strengthening resources within the LV Prasad Eye Institute network, which currently covers 4 states in India at different levels. This would include working in the areas of service delivery, education, research, product development, technology, advocacy and influencing policy. In the second phase, we would like to identify the strategies that work the best in this network and deploy these nationally with partners across the country. The final phase would include identifying strategic partners in developing countries globally and expand these initiatives

  1. How important is education in controlling corneal blindness?

Education in controlling corneal blindness involves both educating the service providers and patients at different levels. Public education to focus on preventive and early intervention in seeking appropriate eye care is key for early detection and management of corneal conditions. Similarly educating eye care providers including cornea specialists, optometrists, technicians, nursing staff and staff for eye banking is paramount to improve accessibility to eye care. This is especially crucial in underserved areas where availability of expertise to manage corneal disease is sorely lacking. Adequate training not only allows cornea care to reach the remotest of rural areas but also will help establish a network of cornea care provides that can serve as an excellent referral model.

  1. What are the main challenges that need to be overcome?

Challenges are present at multiple levels, but the top three challenges appear to be -

  • Accessibility to quality cornea care
  • Availability of donor corneal tissue
  • Inadequate trained cornea specialists
  1. How does corneal blindness affect people’s lives?

Blindness is incapacitating not only for the individual but also for the family of the individual, for who he or she turns from and asset to a liability. Corneal blindness is especially cruel in this regard since it tends to affect younger individuals with many years to live.

  1. What impact would be controlling corneal blindness have on economic growth in developing countries?

The burden of corneal blindness on the community is not just reflected by the prevalence, but also by the younger age of those with corneal blindness, with very high disability adjusted life years (DALYs. The average age for blindness caused by corneal opacities has been reported to be much lower than other more prevalent causes such as cataract. Thus, corneal blindness impacts many in their most productive years of life, severely impacting economic productivity both at the level of the individual and the community at large.

  1. What do you think the future holds for corneal blindness?

While the numbers of existing corneal blind worldwide are daunting there is large reason for optimism, based on overall improvement in medical care and infrastructure, successful eye bank development efforts and evolving techniques in corneal transplantation. While public health initiatives and preventative care provides the long-term solution to addressing corneal blindness, the world's ophthalmic community is poised to dramatically scale up access to corneal transplantation to meet the needs of the millions who are currently blind. Similar to the growth of cataract surgeries, countries, such as India, are well positioned to develop widespread, innovative, and sustainable models for providing transplantation.

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 is 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.

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