Tej Kohli: Why eliminating avoidable blindness is a wise investment to eradicate poverty

A corneal transplant operation at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in India (2018).
The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad. India is home to 12 million of the 39 million worldwide who are either blind or severely visually impaired.

Payback is quick when restoring sight

Restoring sight also unlocks people’s skills and abilities that might otherwise have been progressively lost. It frees up the time of their carers so they can work more hours or more productively. Evidence suggests that many of these benefits can be reaped in a relatively short timeframe.

A young patient awaits treatment at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, India (2018).

Incalculable extra benefits

In reality, the true economic value of eliminating avoidable blindness is likely to be much greater. This is because the researchers limited their analysis to those benefits for which there was a reliable monetary value — productivity benefits to those affected by vision loss and their carers, and costs averted. Additional benefits, such as increased education, gender equality, reduced child mortality, improved self-esteem, health costs averted from reduced mental illness and expanded social networks, could not be included.

Donor cornea are prepared for transplant at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, India (2018).

Big gains in China and Pakistan

In China, where the immense population means that individual provinces are often as large as nations, the analysis focused on the south-west Yunnan Province, one of China’s poorest, with nearly 1.3 million people blind and visually impaired. Each additional dollar invested in the efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness was estimated to yield $3.16. Again, the potential productivity benefits would be considerable.

Unlocking all human potential

The Investing in Vision study provides powerful evidence that by unlocking human potential, any money spent on eliminating avoidable blindness is a wise investment. It increases people’s personal economic engagement and prosperity, and provides a boost to struggling developing economies.

A female surgeon conducts a corneal transplant at the Tej Kohli Cornea Institute in Hyderabad, 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