Training programs at the Ramayamma International Eye Bank
The L V Prasad Eye Institute set up the International Training and Resource Centre for Eye Banking and Corneal Transplantation with the collaborative support of Orbis International, USA, and Eye Sight International, Canada.
Orbis International identifies corneal blindness as a priority program area in its global program interventions. Strengthening eye banking and its management services at all levels has been recognized as a strategic opportunity for ORBIS in India. ORBIS has been supporting corneal blindness, including eye banking projects such as the Hospital Cornea Retrieval Program (HCRP), in India.
ORBIS has provided support to LVPEI in setting up the international training and resource centre for eye banking and corneal transplantation. This project endeavors to promote and increase eye donations in India, while strengthening eye banking systems and procedures through training and research.
Eye Sight International (ESI) is an international NGDO whose priority areas include eye banking, corneal transplantation, community eye health, and resource development. ESI has been supporting the training and research programs in eye banking and cornea fellowship at the LVPEI since 1990.
Objectives of the Centre
- Training of eye bank technicians, eye donation counselors, eye bank managers, ophthalmologists and general medical practitioners in eye banking techniques and eye bank management
- Conducting continuing education programs or refresher courses for eye bank technical and medical professionals
- Establishing an organ culture laboratory to conduct studies on donor corneas to explore the possibility of increasing the pool of possible human donors
- Developing a coordinated action plan between LVPEI, ORBIS, ESI and EBAI for formulation of eye banking policies
- Creating awareness about eye donations through community education program
Need for training programs in Eye Banking and Corneal Transplantation
Blindness continues to be one of the major health concerns in Asia and Latin America. According to the World Health Organisation, there are about 10 million blind and visually disabled persons in India alone - this number could double by 2020 unless immediate interventions are made. Of these 10 million, nearly 2.5 million persons are corneal blind. So acute is the shortage of donor corneas that majority of patients requiring corneal transplantation are not fortunate enough to undergo the procedure within a reasonable period.
The last decade has seen a major revolution in the understanding of corneal diseases, as also the development of more effective treatment methods. These developments have occurred in the areas of ocular surface disorders, corneal infections, immunological corneal diseases, contact lens material and corneal surgery, particularly keratorefractive surgery.
Despite these advances, corneal diseases are a major cause for blindness in India, second only to cataract. There are only a few centres and ophthalmologists who can provide specialized care for corneal problems. Still the majority of ophthalmologists are not trained in corneal transplantation and, more importantly, in providing post-operative care and support to patients.