Naveen Chandra, MD
“A solution like this has so much more potential at a place like Kaiser Permanente—not only because of our integrated practice, but also because our culture centers on always looking out for patients’ best interests.”
For 15 years Dr. Chandra witnessed the deteriorating vision of patients diagnosed with keratoconus, while at the same time knowing that people with the same condition in other parts of the world had access to a procedure called corneal crosslinking that stabilized the disease. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the procedure in 2016, Dr. Chandra wasted no time implementing a strategy to deploy the procedure, not only at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek, but across KP Northern California as well.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the cornea thins and bulges into a cone shape that deflects light, causing distorted vision. About 1 in 2,000 adults in the United States are affected by the disease, and up to 20% of them eventually need a corneal transplant. Corneal crosslinking, which first became available in Europe, is a minimally invasive, 70-minute outpatient procedure that stops keratoconus in its tracks by creating new links between collagen fibers that stabilize and strengthen the cornea.
Because quick access to the procedure requires close collaboration between ophthalmology and optometry, Dr. Chandra developed a streamlined testing and referral system in anticipation of FDA approval to help patients navigate efficiently from diagnosis to procedure. This was particularly important for patients who already had keratoconus and were anxious for a cure.
Thanks largely to Dr. Chandra’s efforts, specialists across KP Northern California have performed more than 900 corneal crosslinking procedures since 2016, and signs indicate that the rate of corneal transplants in KP Northern California is declining.
“Dr. Chandra has a real passion for providing the best care to patients,” says Dr. Ken Grullon, co-physician-in-chief for the Diablo service area. “He stayed abreast of cutting-edge treatments for keratoconus, saw how convincing the data was for corneal crosslinking, and made sure our patients had access to this treatment as soon as it was approved. He really does exemplify what it means to be a TPMG physician.”