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World’s largest eye-care service group provides high-quality treatment for poor

Following his retirement from Government Medical College, the Late Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy (popularly known as Dr V) founded Aravind Eye Car (AEC), a non-profit organization in 1976 from a humble 11-bed hospital with the little savings and a bank loan. 

The eye hospital model based primarily out of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry in southern India on was on truly revolutionary, with 6 beds reserved for patients who could not pay and 5 for those who would be able to pay for the costs. The treatment was and continues to be run in this cross-subsidize manner.

Dr V, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis which severely crippled his fingers and fingers out of shape leaving him in intense pain for the rest of his life and never married performed over 100,000 surgeries over the course of his life. 
Of the roughly 39 million blind people in the world, India accounts around 7.8 million of them. AEC performs more than 300,000 eye surgeries every year having performed a cumulative total of nearly 5 million eye surgeries in the past four decades. 

Dr V imbibed McDonald’s model of providing large-scale eye-treatment at low costs and building a model that could be replicated throughout the world. AEC has built an assembly-line process that has reduced lag time to 1-3 minutes and doctors perform on average 2000 cataract surgeries per year and to ensure its surgeons focus only on the needed tasks. It trains its nurses to such a level that they can handle 70% of the activities taking place in the theater. 
Each theater has on average 4 operating tables lined up parallel to each other and each surgeon has two tables. Whilst a surgeon finishes one surgery, the other patient is ready to be operated upon. 

In 1992, Aravind eye care started Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) – the word meaning secular in Spanish language with aim of working with and training other doctors, hospitals, eye-care programs, governments around the world. 

AEC’s work in 27 countries had added another one-million approximate additional vision-restoring surgeries to world’s total each year. There are studies happening across the world including in USA, to see if the AEC Model can be replicated in their countries as well. As a result of its work, AEC along with other organizations are playing a critical role and where we will be able to live in a planet where no-one will be needlessly blind.

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