39 million people are blind in the world. Of these, 12 million live in India. 80% of blindness is treatable. A ten minute cataract surgery will restore vision to 7.5 million and a pair of spectacles will help another 2.4 million people to see. 200 million people need eye care in India.
Realising the huge unmet need in eye care, Dr. G. Venkataswamy, after retirement from Government service, started Aravind Eye Hospital in his hometown, Madurai as an 11-bed facility. Aravind provides the same high standard of care irrespective of a patient’s ability to pay. 50% of the patients receive services either free or at steeply subsidised rates. Outreach eye camps have been the cornerstone of Aravind’s high-volume work. Every year, Aravind conducts around 2,500 free eye screening camps in rural areas. These camps contribute about 40% to the total cataract surgeries performed at Aravind Eye Hospitals.
Today, the growing network of Aravind’s eye care facilities include 7 tertiary centres, 7 secondary centres, 6 community eye clinics and 80 vision centres and eye banks. Aravind Eye Care System has also been designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness.
Understanding the need for developing eye care providers, Aravind established Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology which is recognised by Medical Council of India, National Board of Examinations, Royal College of Ophthalmology and affiliated to Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University. Over the years, Aravind has increasingly refined its teaching facilities, course structure and methodologies to attract the best students.
Aravind established Asia’s first eye care management training and consultancy institute in 1992. Named Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology, the institute shares best practices in eye care with eye hospitals all over the world and help develop them provide care in a sustainable manner.
Aravind’s manufacturing arm, Aurolab manufactures high-quality ophthalmic consumables at a fraction of the cost charged by western companies. Started as an intraocular lens manufacturing unit, today, Aurolab produces ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, suture needles, equipment, surgical blades and special products. Aurolab products are being exported to more than 160 countries.
Aravind Medical Research Foundation focuses on research in eye and finds new ways to reduce the burden of blindness.