Working Together to Unlock Impact at Scale
SightLife Joins Preeminent Boards Driving Policy Agendas in Eye Banking and Corneal Health
Throughout our 50-year history, SightLife has cultivated deep expertise in eye banking and sight restoration, but this has not been accomplished in a vacuum. We consistently look outside our organization – from other eye banks and non-profits to governments and corporate partners – for inspiration and opportunities to learn from our peers, optimize systems, and build coalitions that help strengthen our service delivery at scale.
Last month, SightLife was selected to serve on a range of Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA) boards and committees, as well as the VISION 2020 India Board. These mission-critical governing bodies will allow us to collaborate with industry leaders while helping to set policy, drive innovation, champion quality assurance, inform training curricula, and continually evaluate best practices in compassionate cornea donation and recovery.
“We are proud to serve alongside many passionate leaders, both in the U.S. and internationally, who understand that quality corneal health care across the continuum – from preventing blindness to restoring sight – is critical to people achieving their potential in school, work, and life,” said Jim McCorkle, SightLife Chief Operating Officer. “Not only is it a privilege to share our lessons learned honed over our 50-year history, we revel in exploring new ideas as well as connecting and collaborating with others in pursuit of our shared mission of eliminating corneal blindness.”
Seven SightLife representatives were selected to serve two-year terms on nine different industry-shaping boards and committees of the EBAA, the nonprofit regulatory authority for U.S. eye banks and a key voice in eye banking globally. The appointments of SightLife’s Eric Schoenecker, Vice President of Strategic Programs, to the EBAA Medical Advisory Board (MAB) and Medical Review Subcommittee and Andrea Crosson, Sr. Director of Donor Operations, to the Policy & Position Research Subcommittee are particularly significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MAB and its subcommittees have been instrumental in guiding eye banks through safety precautions to keep eye recovery technicians protected and ensure donated corneal tissue is safe for transplant.
“I’m honored to join such a respected group of physicians and eye bank leaders who uphold the highest medical standards when setting guidelines for the safe and effective recovery and use of corneal tissue, and the respectful care of donor families throughout the donation process,” said Schoenecker. “Especially during these uncertain times, we have a responsibility to honor the gift of sight, and to operate with the utmost caution that serves and protects our communities and the world at large during COVID-19.”
SightLife will also have representation on the EBAA Accreditation Board as well as Technical Education, Scientific, Quality, Exam, Donor Development, Constitution & Bylaws, and Legislative & Regulatory committees.
In India, SightLife Strategic Advisor Atul Kapoor has been elected to serve as one of 17 board members supporting the VISION 2020 efforts to shape and drive a national cross-sector forum of concerned stakeholders working together to improve eye care through advocacy and knowledge-sharing.
Launched in 2004 with only nine members, VISION 2020 India is now 184-members strong with a proven track record of success. Since 2015, they have led efforts that helped secure a six-fold increase in government funding for eye health, including corneal health. This is an incredible feat because corneal blindness is often seen as a niche area compared to other major health areas like family planning, maternal and child health, and malaria, among others.
“With a focus on creating exponential impact, the VISION 2020 India Board and its ambitions are crucial to improving outcomes in our country, which has the world’s largest population of people who are corneal blind,” said Kapoor. “This work is especially pertinent during the COVID-19 pandemic because funding and national attention is understandably shifting. We cannot lose track of why corneal blindness prevention and sight restoration matter.”
To that end, the VISION 2020 India Board in partnership with the All India Ophthalmic Society, the government of India, and other member institutions recently released comprehensive guidelines on navigating COVID-19 for organizations and institutions involved in eye health. While there are challenges ahead, and likely operational funding gaps for eye health organizations due to the redirection of financial aid to COVID-19 relief efforts, the Board continues to actively engage government and other key funders on the importance of sustaining eye health over time.
In our mission to eliminate corneal blindness by 2040, SightLife deeply values the opportunity to serve with a myriad of individuals and organizations working across different markets and sectors to accelerate blindness prevention and sight restoration at scale. Going farther, faster requires collaboration. We are honored to join our industry colleagues in shaping the path forward.