Tej Kohli: Poverty blindness is a double disenfranchisement for women

A corneal transplant patient and her sister at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad (2019)
Poverty predisposes women to blindness and blindness exacerbates poverty. Pictured at home: A patient of the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India (2018).

A cause and effect of poverty

Poverty predisposes women to blindness, and blindness exacerbates poverty by limiting employment opportunities and by incurring treatment costs that are far beyond their means. A study conducted in Pakistan found that the prevalence of total blindness was more than three times higher in poor clusters of the population than in affluent clusters.

A double disenfranchisement

There are currently 75 million children excluded from primary education in the developing world, and girls are significantly more likely to miss out than boys. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are currently 18 million girls out of school primarily because families are more likely to take their daughters out of school than their sons to help with sick or frail relatives who may have become blind from diseases such as river blindness.

A young girl cares for her mother after she has received treatment to alleviate visual impairment at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India (2018)

The impact of poverty blindness on families

The issue of access to medical care and education are thus inextricably linked and shape the destiny and prospects of women and girls in poor communities where poverty-driven blindness is prevalent and pervasive. Blindness and poor vision also have a tremendous impact on quality of life for women with families who live in poor communities.

Between 2016 and 2019 the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India targeted gender equality whilst taking treatment interventions to directly into poor and underserved communities.

The impact of interventions

Organisations such as the Tej Kohli Foundation are committed to making interventions to prevent, alleviate and cure poverty-driven blindness and to establishing gender equality in access to treatment. Between 2016 and 2019 the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India made direct interventions that changed thousands of lives by taking existing treatments and cures directly into underserved communities whilst targeting and attaining gender equality.

A female patient receives treatment at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India (2018)

A global solution to a global problem

Ending poverty blindness is an under-reported global challenge that humanity must rise to solve. Extrapolations of studies on a global level indicate that a successful universal eye care programme would prevent more than 100 million cases of blindness worldwide during the next twenty years, and consequently save at least $102 billion in lost productivity.

A doctor and patient at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India (2018)



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Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli is a technologist and investor who is best known for curing blindness in the developing world as co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation