Blindness is a condition that is more prominent in the developing world, because of the lack of prioritization for infrastructure and charity projects for this non-life threatening ailment. Yet, it is a condition that can prevent people from living their lives fully, and causes families to make major sacrifices that rob them of their own future.
According to the World Health Organization, 7% of the world’s blindness is corneal blindness, which often requires synthetic or human transplants and can be highly invasive. Donors are scarce, and surgeries can be very expensive.
A man with a vision
Enter technologist, entrepreneur, and investor TejKohli, who has made it his mission to invest in solutions for corneal blindness such as treatment, prevention, and technological innovations. His goal is to eradicate corneal blindness by 2035.
TejKohli, born in New Delhi to middle-class parents, was an engineer who found himself in Costa Rica during the late nineties, where he ventured into various e-commerce and online payment services. He then went into real estate, investing in Costa Rica, United Kingdom, and India, and began to amass wealth by selling the different companies he had founded.
By focusing his investments in tech startups such as e-commerce, deep tech firm, and e-sports, Kohli has been able to support breakthroughs for future innovations. He spends a good percentage of his wealth pn his various philanthropic projects that range from soup kitchens to biotech innovations.
Treatment for all
Much of his philanthropic work is focused on the treatment for corneal blindness. In 2010, he began funding treatments at the Niramaya Hospital in India, and after that, his TejKohli Foundation partnered with Dr. SandukRuit to provide outreach projects in Nepal. Known as Nepal’s God of Sight, Dr. Ruit has a highly specialized technique of removing cataracts using small incisions and transplanting inexpensive artificial lenses.
Together, Kholi and Dr. Ruit set up camps in rural communities to treat the underprivileged suffering from corneal blindness. By making treatment accessible and free, Kholi intends to expand this outreach program to areas in India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Syria, and Lebanon, to name a few.
Kohli also inaugurated the TejKohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, India, in 2015, which is focused on the research and treatment for corneal blindness. They accept in-patient and outpatient services, and in the span of three years performed 43,255 surgical procedures.
Kohli recognizes that these grassroots initiative make a large difference for those suffering corneal blindness now, but he also wants to support the prevention and eventual eradication of the ailment. In 2019, his foundation donated $2 million to set up the TejKohli Cornea Program in Massachusetts Eye and Ear to fund technological innovations for the prevention and eradication of corneal blindness.
Medical breakthroughs such as eradicating corneal blindness may take years for it to be called a success, but through the efforts such as that of TejKohli, funding will help speed up the process. By using his wealth for the good of medical innovations, he provides a vision for future generations to experience the ground-up success he was able to build for himself.