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HCP Cureblindness marks 200,000 corneal transplants

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The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) Cureblindness announced that over 200,000 patients have been the recipients of corneal transplants since the launch of SightLife International 14 years ago.

Refresh me on HCP Cureblindness, first.

Launched in 1995 by ophthalmologists Sanduk Ruit, MD, and Geoff Tabin, MD and headquartered in Vermont, HCP Cureblindness is an independent, non-profit organization with the goal of eradicating preventable blindness across the globe.

The organization works to deliver practical, sustainable, high-quality, and low-cost eye care to blind patients in underserved communities (of over 20 countries) via $25, 10-minute cataract surgeries.

To date, HCP has provided +1.9 million surgeries, 13.3 million screenings and basic treatments, and trained over 19,000 ophthalmic personnel in 19 countries.

Now SightLife.

Launched in 2009, the global health nonprofit is focused on eliminating blindness due to corneal diseases via a health systems approach by working to expand the network, capacity, and capabilities of its partners across the world, and creating corneal health-based sustainable strategies and programs.

To date, the organization has assisted in restoring sight and preventing blindness for +225,000 patients across the globe and provided clinical training for +7,000 healthcare providers.

And together?

HCP acquired SightLife in March 2023 after over a decade of collaboration on multiple projects in Nepal and Ethiopia for clinical training, eye bank development, advocacy, and prevention.

How is HCP involved in the eye bank process?

HCP works on eye bank development—focused primarily in Asia and Africa—via drafted legislation for collecting cornea tissue, public awareness campaigns (to increase donations), patient screenings, tissue matching, and strategic planning, to name a few.

The organization shortens the time frame process for collecting quality tissue that’s matched with a surgeon’s request.

According to HCP, it has trained 700+ eye bankers on the proper handling and management of cornea tissue as well as established multiple centers for training surgeons and other eye bankers to utilize viable donations.

Any input from HCP itself?

Yes, actually.

CEO Katherine “K-T” Overbey stated that the 200,000 milestone for corneal transplants “is incredible,” especially considering that, “Prior to 2009, no systems or resources existed for corneal transplants in many low- and middle-income countries.”

So what’s the goal with these organizations?

Per Overbey: to provide assistance and expertise that enables developing eye banks to run independently within 5 years.

“Our eye bank partners have mature systems with utilization rates comparable with the Western world,” he added.

Lastly, how do I get involved in these efforts?

Click here for details on joining, fundraising, and making a donation to SightLife’s efforts.

Click here for HCP fundraising details, here for donations, and here to inquire about volunteer opportunities.

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