Tej Kohli once said, “We are humanitarian technologists developing solutions to major global health challenges whilst also making direct interventions that transform lives worldwide”. True to his word, the billionaire has been investing in projects that can cure unwanted blindness around the world in underserved regions. Mr Tej Kohli founded the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation (TKRF) in 2019 with eye surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit to cure 5,000 cases of cataract-induced blindness by 2030. But the billionaire has started working to cure blindness with the latest technology to reduce blindness with the Tej Kohli Cornea Programme, Tej Kohli Applied Research, and Tej Kohli Cornea Institute.
The benefit of Tej Kohli and his work to restore vision to the people with his TKRF and other institutes was experienced by six-year-old Keerthana of Hyderabad. She was suffering from the rare Brittle Cornea Syndrome.
What is Brittle Cornea Syndrome?
Brittle Cornea Syndrome also referred to as BCS, involves the thinning of the cornea, which is the protective layer of the eye. The disease is a genetic condition that affects the connective tissues of the eyes, skin, ears, and joints. A person suffering from BCS can experience rupture or tearing of the cornea after a trivial trauma, like a minor injury to the face or head. Even a tap with a finger on the head can break the cornea, leading to permanent blindness.
Like in the case of Keerthana, who already had BCS in her right eye and was diagnosed by doctors. They said there was no cure, and by the time she grows up, her left eye will be damaged too.
Who Suffers From Brittle Cornea Syndrome?
Correct and worldwide data on how many people suffer from BCS is limited, but it has been estimated that less than 1,000 people in the US are diagnosed with the disease. It has been studied that the condition is caused by two types of genetic mutations; hence, it often appears in newborns, infants, and children. Studies are still being done on how to prevent the condition, but as of now, no successful prevention has been found.
However, there are possible cures for children suffering from BCS. One of them is wearing protective polycarbonate glasses, taking lifestyle measures, and having costly surgery. But in situations like that of Keerthana, lifestyle changes and finding the right protective glasses can be a challenge. In a country like India, finding a solution for children affected by BCS is daunting, mainly among underserved communities.
How Has Tej Kholi Helped Cure Brittle Cornea Syndrome?
Like Keerthana, there are others in India and around the world who are suffering from BCS, and for them, noble-hearted Tej Kohli is there with Tej Kohli’s eye foundation. At the Tej Kohli Cornea Programme, he invests $2 million to find breakthroughs in corneal diseases through collaborative research. The result is the use of the latest molecular technology for corneal diseases like BCS. It includes the use of GelCORE, a self-adhesive biomaterial that can act as a protective layer or replace the corneal tissue. It was used by Tej Kohli Cornea Institute, Hyderabad, at LV Prasad Hospital to rectify Keerthana’s BCS. Keerthana can now see and can even go around without her spectacles. The surgery was done free of charge, just like TKRF does for curing cataract patients.
Along with TKRF and their work across the world, Mr Kohli is focused on curing needless blindness in the world, which includes finding a remedy for corneal blindness.