Through his personal foundation, Mr. Li Ka-shing has donated HK$8 million to The Chinese University of Hong Kong to establish an ophthalmology research and training fund.
This contribution will go towards funding ophthalmology research and training at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at CUHK. A matching grant for this year’s donation has already been approval by the University Grants Committee.
Mr. Li has long been a keen supporter of services for the visually impaired. In the early 1990’s, Mr. Li contributed $100 million to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, which made it possible for over one million cataract sufferers to regain their eyesight. Mr. Li also made a gift of $70 million last year to establish the Shantou University/The Chinese University of Hong Kong Joint Shantou International Eye Center in Shantou to provide services for the visually impaired and to promote corneal donations.
Professor Dennis Lam, Chairman of CUHK’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, believes that Mr. Li’s latest gift will enable CUHK to develop better training and research in the field of ophthalmology.
Professor Lam said many common eye diseases are instigated by genetic and environmental factors, and often these factors combine to cause a particular ailment. Ethnic origin is also a factor, e.g., people of Asian descent, including Chinese, are more likely to suffer from myopia than westerners.
Major research carried out by the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in recent years has revealed that approximately 37% of Hong Kong’s primary school students suffer from myopia, which is one of the highest rates in the world. The percentage of secondary school students suffering from myopia rises to 64%, the highest global rate.
Professor Lam said a genetic databank storing DNA information about eye diseases of the Chinese has yet to be established. This information must be obtained in a comprehensive clinical study and the data must be analyzed at the molecular level to compile a DNA sequence of all eye diseases suffered by the Chinese.
“The information can be used for education, research, diagnosis, and prevention purposes. The databank also makes it possible to reduce medical expenses currently used to treat eye diseases and to improve environmental conditions that may cause eye disease. In effect, we can help lower the chances of contracting an eye diseases,” Professor Lam said. “The study of the genetic causes of eye diseases for the Chinese is very important, and Mr. Li’s generous donation will be instrumental in achieving this goal.”
04 Sep 2003