Hyderabad: The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) here has said it has become the first in the world to achieve 20,000 corneal transplants.
The not-for-profit and non-government institute crossed the landmark in the 25th year of establishment of its Ramayamma International Eye Bank, the largest eye bank in Asia.
The Cornea Centre of Excellence at LVPEI is the largest and one of the best in the world, institute officials said Wednesday.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan Wednesday felicitated the cornea and eye bank teams and commended LVPEI's commitment to quality eye care.
He urged all hospitals to emulate LVPEI's model of affordable and low-cost healthcare within the reach of the common man.
He asked the health ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to convene an urgent meeting of all corporate hospitals to carry forward the LVPEI model of low-cost, affordable healthcare.
The governor said corporate hospitals, instead of opening more branches in cities, should move to rural areas.
The LVPEI has done this successfully by spreading its network in rural areas, he said.
LVPEI founder and chairman Gullapalli N. Rao said the best of eye institutions located in the US and across the world were nowhere near this record figure of 20,000 corneal transplants, which the Hyderabad institute accomplished Jan 6.
He said two teams at LVPEI were conducting breakthrough research, one on stem cells hidden in a patient's own eyes to cure blindness and another on culturing cornea in the lab. He said these two can bring down the burden on corneal transplants.
The eye bank was established at LVPEI in 1989 with financial support from the family of Gunnam Ramayamma and technical support from the International Federation of Eye Banks of Baltimore, US. It was primarily to bridge the gap between the need and availability of quality donor corneas, and to create a Centre of Excellence in eye banking.
The other major support came from Eyesight International of Canada, SightLife of Seattle in the US and Orbis International.
Corneal disease is a major cause of blindness in India. Of the 10 million blind in India, 1.1 million are blind in both eyes due to corneal disease, injury or infection. Corneal transplant is the only known cure for corneal blindness, which is made possible by the donation of healthy corneas by individuals upon their death.