Coalition Member Spotlight: Aravind Eye Care System

Preliminary exam at Kallupatti camp outside of Madurai

In honor of World Sight Day October 12th, the Hilton Prize Coalition would like to shine a spotlight on the 2010 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize winner, Aravind Eye Care System (Aravind). Founded in 1976 by Dr. G. Venkataswamy, Aravind operates with a mission to eliminate preventable, treatable, and curable blindness and to spread its model high-quality, patient-centric sustainable eye care throughout the world. From an 11-bed hospital in Madurai, India, Aravind has grown to a network of 12 hospitals and 61 vision centers, a world class research center, and a manufacturing division with global market share. Aravind Eye Care System provides eye care services to more than four million people a year and performs some 463,000 eye surgeries a year.

Thirukail Camp

Through its healthcare consulting group – Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) – Aravind's work extends into other countries as well; LAICO has mentored more than 300 eye care facilities and trained at least 15,000 health care professionals across India, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Since winning the Prize in 2010, Aravind has continued to receive support from the Hilton Foundation for capacity development work with five hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa. LAICO provides support in the form of clinical and administrative training, provision of supplies and equipment,  marketing and community outreach – all with the purpose of helping eye care facilities and hospitals attract patients, provide services efficiently, and deliver the highest quality care possible.

Schoolchildren being fitted for glasses

In 2000, the Aravind Eye Foundation was established in the United States to facilitate relationships with other non-profits, universities, social enterprises, technology companies, and individuals and to sponsor programs that fall outside Aravind’s sustainable model. One program, Spectacles for Scholars, provides free vision screening and eye glasses to school children, resulting in improved performance in school.  Another AEF program is the Ring of Hope, which provides cost-free treatment for children diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a fast-growing, often fatal, eye cancer that strikes children under five years old. In the United States, retinoblastoma is 90% curable, but in India, 90% of children with the disease die because their families cannot afford treatment. The Aravind Eye Foundation has also built several Vision Centers to provide comprehensive eye care to rural populations. Each center is connected to an Aravind Eye Hospital, via the internet, where doctors can diagnose more complicated ailments.

By providing high-quality, sight-saving and quality of life-improving care to some of the world's poorest people, Aravind Eye Care System empowers the communities where its programs, centers, and doctors operate, exemplifying Hilton Prize Coalition values of collaboration and mentorship to create a more sustainable and resilient society.

(Photos courtesy of Aravind Eye Care System)

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