by The Welthi Bureau 3rd July, 2019
Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB), a global leader in eye banking set up at L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in 1989 celebrated its 30th anniversary. RIEB is the largest eye bank anywhere in the world outside the US.Since its inception, RIEB has focused on setting high quality standards and being innovative, while rapidly increasing its supply of transplantable corneas. RIEB has actively promoted and supported the networking and development of eye banks throughout India, and other parts of Asia and the developing world. In the past 30 years, it has cumulatively harvested 78,642corneas and distributed over 41,680 of them to needy patients across India. RIEB has been recognized by SightLife as a ‘Global Centre of Excellence.’ Hyderabad is the only city in Asia with no waiting list for corneal transplants.
Celebrating this achievement, Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Founder and Chair, L V Prasad Eye Institute said, “From harvesting just 20 corneas in its first year in 1989 to 78,642 corneas this year, RIEB has chartered a phenomenal growth for a country like India where traditionally, there has always been a lot of pessimism about organ transplantation. The dedicated team at LVPEI has contributed to the evolution of modern eye banking and specialized cornea care in India. We aim to create more milestones in the coming years towards our mission of alleviating avoidable blindness in India and the world.”
In 2015, L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) created history in the field of Corneal Transplantation by becoming the first Institute ever in the world to have performed 20,000 corneal transplants. The establishment of the eye bank at LVPEI way back in 1989 with financial support from the family of Gunnam Ramayamma(promoters of Nava Bharat Ventures) and technical support from the International Federation of Eye Banks of Baltimore, USA, 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. RIEB has since grown into a major global resource centre and Centre of Excellence in eye banking. In addition to service, the Ramayamma International Eye Bank is also one of the major training centres for eye banking personnel and research in the world.
A whole gamut of specialized activities at the backend goes into achieving the remarkable standards of outcomes at LVPEI: (1) creating social awareness regarding eye donation through events and talks at educational institutes, organizations, residential townships, and engaging with the press and digital media; (2) initiatives such as the first Hospital Cornea Retrieval Program that involves counselors to be trained and placed in large multispecialty hospitals, which was first started at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), an initiative that has resulted in significantly higher yields of donor tissues; (3) fellowship training for ophthalmologists, and eye bank training programs for technicians, counselors and managers; (4) in-house manufacture of a cost effective, indigenous storage medium to
preserve the harvested corneas that is supplied by LVPEI to all eye banks across India and the neighbouring countries; (5) cutting edge technology to evaluate donor tissue’s suitability for transplantation and the Asia-Pacific region’s first ‘Pre-cut’ tissue centre that reduces overall cost and improves quality of transplantations; (6) lobbying with policy makers to influence better standards of eye banking in India, publishing peer reviewed papers on outcomes and making international presentations.
Corneal disease is a major cause of blindness in India. Corneal transplantation, using healthy corneas donated by individuals upon their death, is the only way to rehabilitate the majority of those with corneal blindness. India has the largest burden of corneal blindness in the world, requiring high quality eye banking system to restore vision to these persons so they can lead optimally productive lives. LVPEI innovated the three-tier model of eye banking for India over twenty-five years ago to cater to the needs.In the last 30 years, LVPEI has worked to greatly increase the collection of transplantable donor corneas and elevate eye banking performance standards in India, other parts of Asia and the developing world.
RIEB is today one of the biggest eye banks in the world and credit goes to the generosity of the donor families whose generous gesture during a time of bereavement makes this possible, the dynamic team at LVPEI, and the Institute’s supporters –Smt Gunnam Ramayamma, Sri Gunnam Subba Rao, and their family, international organizations such as Sightsavers, International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks, CBM, Orbis International, Eyesight International and SightLife, besides the Rotary Club of Hyderabad and many others who have significantly contributed to this success.
About Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB)
The Ramayamma International Eye Bank (RIEB) is the largest provider of sight restoring corneas in India and a SightLifeCenter of Excellence in Eye Banking. Since its establishment in 1989, RIEB has greatly increased the collection of transplantable donor corneas and elevated eye banking performance standards in India, and other parts of Asia and the developing world. As a leader in eye banking across Asia, RIEB has contributed significantly to the effective networking and proliferation of eye banks through promotion of community eye banking programs. Corneas collected from donors are used both in-house and distributed to other centres. The cost-effective medium used to store corneas – the MK Medium - is manufactured at RIEB and sent to other needy eye banks in India and other neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mongolia and Kenya. RIEB offers certificate courses to different cadres of eye bank personnel.
About L V Prasad Eye Institute
The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) was established in 1987 at Hyderabad as a not-for-profit, non-government, public-spirited, comprehensive eye care institution. LVPEI is governed by two trusts: the Hyderabad Eye Institute and the Hyderabad Eye Research Foundation. The Institute is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness and a Global Resource Centre for VISION 2020: The Right to Sight initiative. LVPEI has ten active arms to its areas of operations: Clinical Services, Education, Research, Vision Rehabilitation, Rural and Community Eye Health, Eye Banking, Advocacy and Policy Planning, Capacity Building, Innovation and Product Development.
The LVPEI pyramidal model of eye care delivery currently includes a Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad, 3 tertiary centres in Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, 19 secondary and 180 primary care vision centres that cover the remotest rural areas in the four states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka. For further information, visit the Institute’s website, www.lvpei.org
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