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Eye on India

Eye on India

India has one of the highest rates of preventable blindness in the world. Of the 12 million blind people in India, 50 per cent could have their sight restored with a simple cataract operation. A further 17 per cent simply need an adequate prescription for glasses.

James Wawrzynski BA
In 1976, Dr G Venkataswamy, a retired ophthalmic surgeon from Southern India set about creating his first eye hospital in Madurai, Southern India. He would fund a free eye hospital for poor people by offering a for-profit eye care service to the wealthy. His hospital would concern itself mainly with the removal of cataracts. Central to Aravind’s success has been ruthless cost-cutting. Each cataract operation in the UK costs the National Health Service (NHS) £932. The cost to Aravind of removing a cataract in its ‘free’ section is just £10.

How can such a dramatic reduction be achieved? Partly this is a reflection of the system’s efficiency; surgeon, nurse and operating room time is used to full capacity. It is also because salaries are lower in India and surgeons save time (at least in the free section of Aravind) by removing cataracts via the ‘Small Incision Cataract Surgery’ method (similar to traditional extracapsular surgery) rather than the more sophisticated minimally invasive method of phacoemulsification. However, much of the cost reduction lies in the low cost of their intraocular lenses (IOLs) and surgical equipment.

Read Full Article - source: EuroTimes
Colin Kerr
Executive Editor,
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