According to WHO, the World Health Organization, approximately 45 million people worldwide are afflicted with some form of blindness. One-third of the world’s blind population, or an estimated 15 million people, reside in India alone. One form of blindness that afflicts a large number of the blind in India is corneal blindness. Corneal blindness happens to be a form of blindness that is curable in the majority of cases. The success rate of corneal transplant surgery is over 90 percent.
Named after New Delhi born businessman and philanthropist Tej Kohli, the Tej Kohli Foundation is making a difference in the lives of Indians suffering from corneal blindness. The foundation has joined with an NGO in Gurgaon, Niramaya, to cover the costs incurred for corneal transplant surgery. The surgery grants have been estimated to be 150,000 INR per month for transplants done in Gurgaon. The Kohli Foundation wishes to expand the areas into which they offer assistance with corneal transplants, at an estimated cost of an additional 150,000 INR per city.
Funded by Tej Kohli himself, the foundation is not seeking donations of financial means. The biggest detriment to not being able to perform more transplant surgeries each year is a lack of transplantable corneas. The Kohli Foundation is addressing the need to make the general population aware of the need for corneal donations. Medical procedures have advanced to the point that one cornea can restore sight to two people. Were a person to donate both of their corneas, they would therefore restore to four people.
The “Walk For Vision” was one event staged to help bring awareness of the need for corneal donations. More than 3,000 people joined the walk, in which the walkers were blindfolded. Renowned cricketers Mithun Manhas and Pradeep Sangwan participated in the event, along with Gurgaon Police Commissioner S.S. Dewal and Sukhbir Kataria, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Cooperatives. The two officials completed the walk and urged everyone to make corneal donations. Hopefully, events such as the “Walk For Vision” will help to inform the world of the need for donations.
In India alone, over 100,000 corneas need to be donated each year to combat corneal blindness in the country. Sadly, only about 10 percent of the required corneas, or a mere 10,000, are collected each year. Therefore, the waiting list for corneal transplants grows drastically each and every year. Organizations such as the Tej Kohli Foundation are to be commended for their endless work in helping to combat the problem of corneal blindness. But even with as much as these organizations are doing, they cannot do it all. It is up to individual people to provide the tools these organizations need to restore sight, namely the corneas.