Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology

Madurai, India

The problem of avoidable blindness rapidly escalating remains a major cause of concern in the Indian healthcare scenario. In a developing country like India, the government alone cannot meet the health needs of all, owing to a few challenges like growing population, inadequate infrastructure, low per capita income, ageing population, diseases in epidemic proportions and illiteracy. Realising this, Dr Venkataswamy wished to establish an alternate health care model that could supplement the efforts of the government and be self-supporting. Following his retirement at the age of 58 in 1976, he established the GOVEL Trust under which Aravind Eye Hospitals were founded. The hospitals are named after Sri Aurobindo, one of the 20th century’s most revered spiritual leaders. In essence, Sri Aurobindo’s teachings insist on transcendence into a heightened state of consciousness and becoming better instruments for the divine force to work through. In an eleven bed hospital manned by 4 medical officers, Dr V saw the potential for what is today, one of the largest facilities in the world for eye care. Over the years, this organisation has evolved into a sophisticated system dedicated to compassionate service for sight.

Aravind with the goal of providing permanent eye care to the rural communities by running telemedicine enabled vision centres for a population of 50,000 to 75,000. These centres are manned by trained and skill certified mid-level ophthalmic personnel. They do comprehensive eye examination for patients who visit the vision centre, document the findings, and ensure teleconsultation with the ophthalmologist at the base hospital.

They have collaborated with the ECHO platform where the vision centre technicians from 20 sites will be making case presentations on cataract, refractive error cases and prescriptions, diabetic retinopathy fundus images diagnosed and speciality cases identified in every learning session. This will help us improve the quality of diagnosis and advice rates at vision centres. 

The objective of this program is to increase the diagnostic rates in these 20 vision centres towards cataract, refractive error, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.