Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Indian Eye Care Group Wins $1.5 Million Prize

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Indian Eye Care Group Wins $1.5 Million Prize

Article excerpt

On April 20, 2010, Aravind Eye Care System, the world's largest eye care provider, will receive the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, which has been awarded annually since 1996 to an organization that does extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. One of almost 200 nominees for the prize, Aravind was founded in 1976 by the late Govindappa Venkataswamy when he retired from India's government health service.

Blindness is common in India (26% of the estimated 45 million blind people in the world live there) because of extreme sun exposure and a genetic predisposition to cataracts, which often strike Indians between ages 40-50. In order to address such high numbers of people in need of proper eye care, Dr. Venkataswamy was inspired by the fast-food chain McDonald's and its ability to replicate the same quality and efficiency anywhere in the world. Every aspect of Aravind, from systems and equipment to training, is standardized. Because only 30 percent of its patients pay for services, Aravind's model also hinges on volume and efficiency to keep costs low: a typical ophthalmologist might perform 250 to 400 surgeries annually, whereas an Aravind doctor will average 2,000. …

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