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Published: 06.09.2023
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Baltimore, Maryland, August 28, 2023 – KeraLink International (KLI), a globally renowned charitable organization and leader in corneal health innovation, has unveiled three major initiatives to eradicate corneal blindness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs): supporting the development of a groundbreaking approach to corneal regeneration; advancing a wholistic global strategy for preventing and treating corneal conditions that may lead to blindness; and spearheading a collaborative international effort to combat infectious keratitis, the leading cause of corneal blindness globally. Once the world’s largest provider of sightrestoring ocular tissue, KLI is now the only organization in the world solely committed to eradicating corneal blindness in LMICs.

“KeraLink International is unique in our singular focus on bringing health care providers, technology innovators, philanthropists, and investors into a coordinated, collaborative effort to eliminate corneal blindness in LMICs,” said Douglas J. Furlong, Board Chairman, KLI.

In the U.S., untreated corneal blindness is essentially a condition of the past. However, in LMICs, preventive measures are not as accessible, quality eye care is often scarce, and infrastructure to support corneal transplantation is lacking. Corneal blindness affects 12.7 million children and adults and threatens tens of millions more, even though it is preventable, treatable, and reversible.

“We aim to protect and restore the vision of millions of children and adults who suffer needlessly from corneal conditions, including blindness. This goal, however, will only be fully realized with the financial support of donors and investors,” Furlong said.

A Comprehensive, Sustainable Approach to Eradicating Corneal Blindness

“Every case of corneal blindness prevented holds significant potential for positive social impact,” said David Green, KLI’s president and CEO. With the support of donors, investors, and philanthropists who believe in the lasting impact and value of socially minded capital to fund innovation, KLI is addressing corneal conditions in LMICs through:

• Preventing injuries and infections that may lead to corneal blindness;

• Early detection and rapid treatment that stops corneal conditions from advancing to vision loss; and

• Novel therapies, like corneal regeneration, to preserve and restore sight that will be priced affordably and produced sustainably in LMICs.

Through this “PEN” approach, KLI is rewriting the narrative of corneal health, fusing the efficiency, scale, and affordability of proven market-based practices with the compassion of philanthropy.

Donor support will further KLI’s strategic approaches and solidify KLI’s unique role as a thought and action hub for bringing technological and program innovation to the fight against corneal blindness in LMICs. Ongoing and planned initiatives include:

• Investing in Innovative Therapy to Restore Sight

KLI established and provided initial funding for a partner C corporation to develop a tissue substitute to regenerate corneas and reduce reliance on donated human corneal tissue. With additional funding, KLI can help speed the development of this groundbreaking technology.

• New Interventions

KLI has scanned the globe and identified innovative strategies for prevention, early detection, and rapid treatment and is helping to bring these to market to thwart the impact of corneal conditions that often lead to blindness. KLI is funding research and development of cost-effective imaging hardware and artificial intelligence to diagnose keratitis, a leading cause of corneal blindness.

• International Keratitis Initiative (IKI)

KeraLink International is launching the International Keratitis Initiative (IKI) in collaboration with the Aravind Eyecare System. IKI will unite leading eye care programs, researchers, industry experts, and foundations in a concerted effort to conquer keratitis, the leading cause of corneal blindness globally

Photo Credits

Image courtesy of the Clinton Health Access Initiative South Africa.