L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) Network Eye Banks has hit another milestone by providing 40% of the corneas distributed throughout India for sight-restoring corneal transplant surgeries last year.
Since its inception in 1989, the LVPEI eye bank network has distributed 61, 063 corneas, of which 50,000 (82%), are by the Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB) at LVPEI’s Hyderabad Campus. The Institute also has eye bank facilities at its campuses in Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.
“Our goal is to ensure that the availability of quality corneal tissue does not remain a barrier in tackling corneal blindness,” said Dr Prashant Garg, Head, Eye Banking Services, L V Prasad Eye Institute, in a press release.
The Hyderabad-based LVPEI has now expanded its activities and has partnered with The Hans Foundation for setting up eye banks in other states of India – where they are needed the most. Two of these eye banks have been set-up in Rishikesh and Guwahati. Within two years, the eye bank at Rishikesh was able to supply 194 corneas for transplantation, added Dr Garg, who is also the Technical Advisor to the Global Action Framework for Transplantation group of the World Health Organization (WHO) that focuses on setting up norms, standards and policies for organ and tissue transplantations.
RIEB established a Modular Clean Room facility (ISO Class 5) in 2016 to process corneal tissues for advanced corneal surgeries such as pre-cut for partial thickness (lamellar) surgeries. This minimizes the time and effort of the surgeon, reduces the cost and makes the surgery less invasive with quick healing and faster visual recovery. So far, RIEB has provided 6600 pre-cut corneas to surgeons within and outside the LVPEI network. Similar facilities are also available at LVPEI’s other tertiary campuses.
LVPEI has performed over 2000+ corneal transplant surgeries every year for the past several years. So far, over 38,655 corneal transplant surgeries (across the network) have been performed at the institute, which possibly is the highest at a single institute anywhere in the world. The cornea collection numbers stand at – 107,751 (up until December 2020; corneas found unsuitable for surgeries are used for research and for training ophthalmology fellows/residents).
As many as 1.1 million Indians suffer from corneal blindness. Corneal transplantation, using healthy corneas donated by individuals upon their death, is the only known cure for corneal blindness, according to the release.