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Vision Excellence Awards: Gullapalli Nageswara Rao

Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao

Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao (Nag) completed his residency training in ophthalmology in India and then went to the United States where he did his fellowships at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and later at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where he continued as the clinical faculty until his return to India in 1986.

Dr Rao is the Founder-Chair of L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). Established in 1987, LVPEI has positively impacted the lives of 30.64 million people and has been providing equitable and quality eye care to all sections of society with the vision ‘So that all may see’. The LVPEI Eye Health Pyramid with its four-tier eye care delivery system – primary, secondary, tertiary and advanced care – focusing on ‘people-centred eye care’ is the brainchild of Dr Rao. A World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHO) for Prevention of Blindness, LVPEI provides more than 50% of its services free of cost to the underserved through its network of over 215 centres. Under his stellar leadership, LVPEI has established itself as a globally recognized eye care institute with strong components of clinical care, low vision and rehabilitation, training, eye banking, research, product and technology innovation, public health and capacity building.

Through several capacity building initiatives, Dr Rao and LVPEI have played a pivotal role in helping upgrade eye health programs in twelve countries in Asia and Africa, and eighteen states in India, the latest impactful one being the Liberia Eye Health Initiative.

Dr Rao has published over 300 papers and contributed several book chapters, in addition to serving on the Editorial Boards of several journals. He holds several important leadership positions in prominent national and international organisations.

Some of the significant recognitions and honours include (a) Former Secretary-General and later Chair of the Board and CEO of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), wherein he played a pivotal role in developing and fostering the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness, along with WHO – VISION 2020: The Right to Sight in partnership with WHO (b) Former President of ‘Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI)’, group of 80 of the most eminent academicians in ophthalmology in the world (c) Inducted into ‘Ophthalmology Hall of Fame’ at the meeting of American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) in Los Angeles. Only 57 Ophthalmologists from around the world have been inducted into the Hall of Fame in the past three centuries (d) Recipient of World Cornea Congress Medal from International Cornea Society (among the first ten) for outstanding contribution to the field of cornea (e) Invited Editorial for the 100th year issue of British Journal of Ophthalmology (f) Honoured with the institution of ‘Gullapalli N Rao – AIOS Endowment Lecture’ by the All India Ophthalmological Society (one of the five instituted by AIOS in 2020) (g) Member of the Jury for the Champalimaud Award, a € 1.0 million award for outstanding contributions to vision care or research and h) Five honorary doctorates from Australia, UK and India.