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London philanthropist Tej Kohli pledges US$ 2 million towards research designed to cure corneal blindness

India born, London-based billionaire-philanthropist Tej Kohli has pledged US$2 million to innovation and research designed to cure corneal blindness.

London-based eCommerce payments billionaire Tej Kohli is pursuing his goal of eliminating corneal blindness in multiple ways - philanthropy, business ventures and technology.

His most recent is a donation of US$2 million to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) in Boston towards innovation and research designed to cure corneal blindness, including the development of promising biotechnology solutions. The move is part of Kohli's attempt to find a way to eradicate avoidable corneal blindness by 2030, a solution that is not dependent on transplantation.

World scenario

Over 250 million people in the world have a visual impairment and 39 million people are blind, according to the World Health Organization. Blindness is heavily impacted by poverty, with up to 14 of the 39 million living in India.

A good proportion of blindness, including 75% of corneal disease, is curable. Over 12 million of the world's blind are waiting for cornea transplants, including six million in India, and only one in 70 of those on waiting lists receive a corneal transplant each year. Solving the problem of corneal blindness will require an affordable non-surgical solution.

Kohli has already made substantial progress in his mission. The philanthropic Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad is an eminent institution for corneal research and expertise. Between 2016 and 2018 the institute saw 167,321 outpatient visits, collected 26,269 donor corneas, utilized 15,784 cornea and completed 31,511 surgical procedures.

The MEE is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and its Department of Ophthalmology is the world's largest vision research and clinical enterprise. Its scientists are conducting over 110 clinical studies and trials to investigate new therapies across a broad array of vision diseases.

The Tej Kohli Cornea Program aims to boost innovative and collaborative research to achieve unprecedented breakthroughs in corneal disease.

Biotechnology is in a chain reaction of exponential technological progression and rapid development that offers unprecedented new opportunities to improve human life. What we think we can achieve with biotechnology is a non-surgical solution to corneal blindness that can be applied through a syringe like a vaccine. Mass. Eye and Ear is one of the leading centres of excellence in the world, and my $2 million donation is to help ensure that the development of a technological solution to eliminating corneal blindness becomes a reality. - Tej Kohli, Billionaire-Philanthropist

Joan Miller, Professor & Chair, Department of Ophthalmology at HMS and Chief of Ophthalmology at MEE, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, says the donation will allow MEE to "advance biotechnology therapies - first to clinical trials and ultimately to large populations of people afflicted with corneal infection and blindness. Tej Kohli is passionate about curing corneal blindness around the globe and we at Mass. Eye and Ear are very pleased to partner with him as we develop the next generation of treatments and cures."

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