Corneal blindness remains a “significant and growing problem,” said Monty Montoya, chief executive officer, SightLife Surgical. There are more than 10 million corneal blind who need treatment, he said. In the US approximately 50,000 transplants are performed annually. Outside the US, about 100,000 transplants are performed annually.
“It’s just a small drop in the bucket of people who need treatment,” Montoya stated. Yet the eye banking industry is fragmented, with about 80 eye banks in the US. Further, the corneal transplantation market is about $215 million, which may be why advances and innovation in the field have been minimal. Reimbursement for surgeons and centers is also low, which may impact access to care.
SightLife “is committed to ending corneal blindness by 2040,” Montoya said. “We are the largest provider of corneas for transplant in the world – we prepared 24,600 alone in 2015.” Annual revenues are in excess of $40 million, and the company has a global workforce of about 225.
SightLife “has formed a for-profit subsidiary, SightLife Surgical, to generate the resources necessary to bring advances and innovation to corneal surgery and therapeutics,” Montoya continued.
Series A financing has already secured $10 million, and the board of directors includes luminaries such as William Link, PhD, and Richard L. Lindstrom, MD.
“We plan to remain focused on the cornea ecosystem, and be ‘all about the cornea,’” Montoya said.
As the company progresses toward its goals, “corneal surgeons will benefit, patients will benefit, investors will benefit, but most importantly, the 10 million corneal blind around the world will benefit,” he stated. One day, he said, the lofty goal of no one, anywhere in the world, awaiting a cornea transplant or procedure will be met and SightLife Surgical will be at the forefront.
Monty Montoya pursues the worldwide elimination of corneal blindness with a passion. For those in the global arena of corneal transplantation and eye banking, he is considered a true social humanitarian for working tirelessly to achieve that mission for the past 20 years.