On Dr. Aldave’s first trip to India in 2002, he was overwhelmed by the significant social and economic burden of visual impairment secondary to corneal opacification, where it is estimated that approximately 7 million individuals suffer from corneal blindness in at least one eye. The following year, Dr. Aldave began performing artificial corneal transplant surgery at the Stein Eye Institute, where he has subsequently performed over 250 procedures. Given the ability of the artificial cornea (keratoprosthesis) to restore vision to patients without the need for high quality donor tissue, and without the need to be concerned about transplant rejection, Dr. Aldave became interested in the feasibility of introducing the artificial cornea to the developing world.
In the vast majority of non-industrialized countries, donor corneal tissue is in scarce supply, and thus most patients with corneal blindness are never given the opportunity to have their vision restored. For those few patients who are fortunate enough to receive a corneal transplant, rejection of the donor corneal tissue is common, and often results in worse vision than the patient had prior to corneal transplant surgery. In 2008, Dr. Aldave founded Visionaries International with the purpose of training corneal surgeons in India and throughout the world to perform keratoprosthesis surgery. Since 2008, Visionaries International has trained dozens of corneal surgeons in 18 countries to perform not only keratoprosthesis surgery but basic and other advanced forms of corneal transplantation as well.