Posted on July 29, 2019 by staff

UK eCommerce billionaire pledges $2m for blindness tech


A London-based eCommerce payments billionaire has pledged $2m to innovation and research designed to cure corneal blindness.

Tej Kohli pledged the sum to Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston to fund innovation in research to cure corneal blindness, including the development of promising biotechnology solutions.

The move is part of Kohli’s attempt to find a way to eradicate avoidable corneal blindness by 2030.

Between 2016 and 2018 the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad saw 167,321 outpatient visits, collected 26,269 donor corneas, utilized 15,784 cornea and completed 31,511 surgical procedures.

More than 280 million people in the world have a visual impairment and 39 million people are blind, according to the World Health Organization.

Three quarters of corneal disease is curable, and 12.7 million of the world’s blind are waiting for cornea transplants, including six million in India.

But only one in seventy of those on waiting lists receive a corneal transplant each year.

Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and its Department of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest vision research and clinical enterprise.

Between 2016 and 2018, MEE ophthalmologists conducted 521,805 patient visits and performed 101,941 ophthalmic surgeries and procedures.

A long-time leader in research and clinical care for retinal disease, MEE performed the first FDA-approved gene therapy for an inherited disease in March 2018.

Its clinician scientists are currently conducting more than 110 clinical studies and trials, in order to investigate new therapies across a broad array of vision disease and disorders.

The Tej Kohli Cornea Program at MEE will accelerate innovative and collaborative research to achieve unprecedented breakthroughs in corneal disease.

The program will pursue pathways to cure corneal blindness through prevention and treatment, including cutting-edge molecular technology for rapid diagnosis and early detection of corneal infection and GelCORE, an adhesive biomaterial for replacing corneal tissue.

Kohli has previously poured $100m into new AI ventures, and launched a €50m eSports investment arm.