Aravind Eye Hospitals

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Aravind Eye Hospitals
Aravind eye hospital madurai1.JPG
Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai
Location Tamil Nadu, India
Hospital type Specialist
Network Aravind Eye Care System
Beds 4000[1]
Speciality Ophthalmology
Founded 1976

Aravind Eye Hospitals is a hospital chain in India. It was founded by Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (popularly known as Dr.V) at Madurai, Tamil Nadu in 1976. It has grown into a network of eye hospitals and has had a major impact in eradicating cataract related blindness in India.[2][3][4] As of 2012, Aravind has treated nearly 32 million patients and performed 4 million surgeries, the majority of them being cheap or free making it the world’s largest and most productive eye-care service group. The model of Aravind Eye Care hospitals has been applauded and has become a subject for numerous case studies across the world.[5][6][7]


Cataracts are a major source of blindness in India, with at least 4 million cases reported every year, contributing to nearly to a quarter of the world’s blind. Cataract related blindness can be avoided by timely intervention and surgery.[8] In 1970's, India did not have eye care facilities to treat patients on such a large scale. Dr. Venkataswamy, the head of Ophthalmology at Madurai Medical College established the GOVEL Trust in 1976 after his retirement at the age of 58. The first Aravind Eye Hospital was founded in Madurai as a modest 20-bed hospital in a home after most banks refused to lend money citing Dr. V's age and the eccentric model. In this hospital, six beds were reserved for people who could not afford to pay while the remaining fourteen were for paying patients. The hospitals were named after Sri Aurobindo, a freedom fighter and spiritual leader from India. Since the beginning, family members of Dr. V have played a major role in the growth and success of the system.

The Aravind Model[edit]

Dr. V's vision was to eradicate needless blindness in India. Dr. V. wanted to emulate the service efficiency of McDonald's fast food and sought to adapt it to the eye care system to cope with increasing the numbers of patients treated. Aravind began performing surgeries on a large scale with treatment being free or heavily subsidized for the poor cross subsidized by the paying patients.[9] Aravind established an outreach program wherein doctors reach out to remote villages to conduct eye camps sponsored by various organizations like Sathya Sai Organization, Lions Clubs International and Rotary International.[10] The organizations take care of the costs of the camp, transporting the patients to surgery and their rehabilitation while Aravind does the surgery free of cost. Aravind started performing 5 times the number of cataract surgeries that were performed in the entire country and 16 times more than that of the entire U.S.[11] Aravind established its own lens manufacturing facility Auro lab and blood bank to reduce costs.

Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful. Being of service to God and humanity means going well beyond the sophistication of the best technology, to the humble demonstration of courtesy and compassion to each patient.- Dr.G.Venkataswamy

Aravind focused on rotating doctors between free and paid wards, concentrating on efficiency and hygiene thus eliminating differences between the surgeries done for paid and non-paid patients. The rate of infection in Aravind was about four per thousand surgeries which was significantly lower than the international norm of six per thousand surgeries.[12] Aravind never indulged in advertising and garnered a profit of $7.9 million on overall revenues of $20 million in 2009-10.

Hospitals and facilities[edit]

Aravind Hospital started in 1976 as an 11-bed hospital in Madurai. Aravind opened a hospital in Theni in 1985 and Tirunelveli in 1988. The hospital at Coimbatore was founded in 1997. Aravind later expanded to five more cities in Tamil Nadu including Tirupur, Salem, Dindigul, Thoothukudi, Udumalaipettai and neighboring Pondicherry. Aravind is setting up a hospital in Chennai at a cost of INR 1.4 billion with a capacity to perform 60,000 surgeries a year. The group also has four partnership projects — with the Rajiv Gandhi Chairtable Trust in Amethi, another in Lucknow, Birla Corporation in Kolkata and Shanghvi Trust in Amreli, Gujarat. Aravind is also setting up its first overseas venture in Nigeria in partnership with Chanrai Group which is expected to be the largest eye-care facility in Africa when it goes operational in 2015 with a capacity to perform 10,000 surgeries annually.[13]


Aravind faced a major challenge in terms of the rising costs and availability of intraocular lenses required for eye surgeries that threatened its model. With assistance from American entrepreneur David Green and World Health Organization, Aravind started Aurolab, an on-site lens manufacturing set-up near Madurai. As of 2012, Aurolab produces nearly 1.8 million lenses annually at a price of $2 each. The availability of inexpensive lenses has allowed for many more surgeries at Aravind Eye Care Hospitals.


Aravind established Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) in association with Lions International in 1992. The institute offers training for hospital administrators, hospital operations managers and other management professionals.[14]

Aravind Eyebank[edit]

Aravind has established four eyebanks viz. Rotary Aravind International Eye Bank in Madurai in association with Rotary International (1998), Aravind - IOB Eye bank in Coimbatore in association with Indian Overseas Bank (1998), Rotary Aravind Eye Bank in Tirunelveli in association with Rotary International (2004) and Aravind Eye Bank Association in Puducherry (2005).[15] The eyebanks help in procurement, processing, and distribution of corneal tissues and eyeballs for transplantation and research.

Eye Research[edit]

Aravind has established Dr.G.Venkataswamy Eye Research Institute in Madurai in 2008 for facilitating research in ophthalmology.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Champalimaud Vision Award (2007)
  • Gates Award for Global Health (2008)[16]
  • Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize (2010)[17]
  • India’s Most Innovative Hospital Award at India Healthcare Awards (2011)
  • FICCI award for the Best Private Hospital in India

See also[edit]