Nepal Eye Program was officially launched in July 1992 to support the prevention & control of blindness in Nepal and the region. Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) is the implementing body of the Nepal Eye Program, a not-for-profit, community-based, non-government organization. With an aim to act as a model for treatment, research and training, independent yet working in co-operation with all other eye care centres and organizations in Nepal, the current TIO facility was opened in 1994.
In the early years, working with The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), Australia, TIO played a key role to help refine and adapt a practical, safe, and affordable technique of intraocular lens implant for cataract surgery in developing countries. Another key achievement in the early days was the establishment of the country’s first eye bank, in conjunction with Tissue Banks International in Baltimore, USA, and Lions International.
Another vital international association of TIO early on was with the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), USA. They helped to run unique projects empowering local physicians to alleviate the suffering caused by blindness, including skills-transfer education, cost-recovery, research, and the creation of a network of eye care facilities.
With the establishment of the state of the art manufacturing facility for intraocular lenses funded, designed & constructed by FHF, TIO had started off considerably well equipped in its journey towards blindness prevention and eye care. After fourteen years, TIO is still determined in its mission to be the hub for ophthalmic services, academia and research. The current focus of TIO is on strengthening its academic unit, opening more rural community eye centres in the hilly and mountainous districts of Nepal and above all sharing the ‘Tilganga’ model of eye care concept to others.
Through the assistance of HCP and FHF, TIO is regularly conducting high volume remote cataract surgery camps and establishing sustainable rural eye care infrastructure in Nepal. HCP is also partially funding the current expansion project of TIO into a new building to manage our increasing demand. The FHF has been providing continued technical assistance to the IOL laboratory over the years and now has completed the total transition of control of the laboratory to TIO.
Overall, TIO has crossed many milestones and has now grown into a centre for high quality ophthalmic services, products, training and academia. However, the burden of blindness in Nepal is still large, TIO and its staff feel there is still much more to do and many more challenges to overcome.