Turning the tide of corneal blindness

Indian J Ophthalmol. Sep-Oct 2012;60(5):423-7. doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.100540.

Abstract

Corneal diseases represent the second leading cause of blindness in most developing world countries. Worldwide, major investments in public health infrastructure and primary eye care services have built a strong foundation for preventing future corneal blindness. However, there are an estimated 4.9 million bilaterally corneal blind persons worldwide who could potentially have their sight restored through corneal transplantation. Traditionally, barriers to increased corneal transplantation have been daunting, with limited tissue availability and lack of trained corneal surgeons making widespread keratoplasty services cost prohibitive and logistically unfeasible. The ascendancy of cataract surgical rates and more robust eye care infrastructure of several Asian and African countries now provide a solid base from which to dramatically expand corneal transplantation rates. India emerges as a clear global priority as it has the world's largest corneal blind population and strong infrastructural readiness to rapidly scale its keratoplasty numbers. Technological modernization of the eye bank infrastructure must follow suit. Two key factors are the development of professional eye bank managers and the establishment of Hospital Cornea Recovery Programs. Recent adaptation of these modern eye banking models in India have led to corresponding high growth rates in the procurement of transplantable tissues, improved utilization rates, operating efficiency realization, and increased financial sustainability. The widespread adaptation of lamellar keratoplasty techniques also holds promise to improve corneal transplant success rates. The global ophthalmic community is now poised to scale up widespread access to corneal transplantation to meet the needs of the millions who are currently blind.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / etiology
  • Blindness / prevention & control*
  • Cornea / surgery*
  • Corneal Diseases / complications
  • Corneal Diseases / surgery*
  • Corneal Transplantation / methods*
  • Eye Banks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans