L V P E I Experience - L V Prasad Eye Institute

Eyesight International

Partnering for sight for all

Eyesight International (Canada) is dedicated to eliminating blindness and bringing self-sustaining eye care to rural communities in the developing world. Founded in 1994 by cornea specialist Dr Paul Dubord, Eyesight International (ESI) works with partners in Canada and internationally, introducing initiatives and building resources and skills through locally sustainable programs, for effective long-term solutions to blindness and visual impairment. How did the partnership between ESI and LVPEI begin? Looking back Dr Paul Dubord, Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of British Columbia, says, “The adventure began in 1989, in Karachi, Pakistan, when Dr Nag Rao from the L V Prasad Eye Institute asked me if I would work with him to establish an eye banking and corneal transplantation program in India. From the humble beginnings of this partnership, with 25 transplants performed at LVPEI in the early 1990s, a great program has emerged.”

File photo: Mr Chandrababu Naidu,
former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh,
Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Prof Paul Dubord
and Dr Usha Gopinathan at the launch of
the International Training and Resource
Centre for Eye Banking and Corneal
Transplantation at LVPEI in 2001

The Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB) was set up at LVPEI in 1989 and is currently the largest world-class eye bank in the developing world. Right from its inception, it has received technical support and guidance in policy making, development of standards and training programs from ESI.  In 2001, RIEB formally evolved as the International Training and Resource Centre for Eye Banking and Corneal Transplantation in collaboration with ESI.

To address the shortage of eye banking personnel at all levels, ESI supports training programs at institutions in the developing world with a proven ability to provide high quality training. Not only is this more cost effective than training in the West, the trainees are more likely to remain in the community. With ESI’s support RIEB continues to offer structured training programs for eye banking technicians, eye donation counselors, and eye bank managers. Several trainees come from the developing world; they return home to set up eye banking systems that benefit the local populace.

ESI has also facilitated ongoing skill upgradation and training programs for RIEB faculty and personnel at LVPEI, Hyderabad, and ESI, Canada. It continues to support the cornea fellowship program at LVPEI through various training modules on clinical and surgical practices. In 1992, the Hospital-based Corneal Retrieval Program (HCRP) was launched at LVPEI, Hyderabad – the first in the developing world, where trained grief counselors placed in hospitals counsel families on eye donation. This program, with guidance from ESI, yields a significant number of corneas, eliminating the waiting list of patients awaiting a corneal transplant at LVPEI. ESI has also facilitated quality improvement of procedures and techniques, including the McCarey Kaufman medium used for storage and preservation of corneas. ESI (Canada) and SightLife (USA) supported the setting up of eye banks at LVPEI’s two new tertiary centres – drushti daan Eye Bank in Bhubaneswar and Mohsin Eye Bank in Visakhapatnam.

Mr Monty M Montoya, President
and CEO, SightLife (USA),

Mrs and Prof Dubord and
Dr Taraprasad Das at the launch
drushti daan eye bank at LVPEI,

In 2001, ESI and LVPEI created a self-insurance pilot project never before attempted in the developing world. The objective of this Community Assisted and Financed Eye care project (CAFE) was to build an affordable self-sustaining comprehensive eye care system funded by the communities it serves.

“This partnership is flourishing beyond our expectations and currently we look forward to eliminating corneal blindness in the developing world,” says Dr Dubord.