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Aravind’s Pledge for World Sight Day

Community engagement, comprehensive eye care and enabling compliance together result in growing patient volumes.
Published: 21.07.2023
Thulasiraj Ravilla Executive Director
LAICO - Aravind Eye Care System
Aravind Eye Care Pledge for World Sight Day

Aravind Eye Hospital is pleased to be part of the World Sight Day celebrations of IAPB and have pledged for the event, 1 million outpatient examinations, 150,000 surgeries/lasers/injections and 200,000 spectacles dispensed.

Aravind Eye Hospital’s founding purpose continues to be “eliminating needless blindness” – blindness (and visual impairment) which can be treated or prevented. With the advent of WHO including refractive error as a cause of blindness and visual impairment, the magnitude of those in need of eye care intervention shot up from tens of millions to more than a billion.

Hence, we at Aravind from our inception recognized that providing care at scale was not an option but a necessity, to make a dent in the problem. Of course, the scale has to be achieved with no compromise to quality. This is something that we have been diligently practicing and advocating to others. As a result, our patient volumes have continued to grow consistently over the years, with matching increase in our capability. Since our inception in 1976 till March 2023, we have handled over 78 million outpatient visits and performed over 9.4 million surgeries and intraocular procedures like lasers and injections.

outpatient visits (paying & free)

Post COVID we saw a resurgence in demand resulting in an extraordinary increase in patient volumes during the year April 2022 to March 2023, resulting in 5.76 million outpatient examinations and over 700,000 surgeries and procedures.
Aravind in 2022-23

Aravind caters to the eye care needs of a population of 100 million in Tamilnadu and adjoining districts from bordering States of India, through its network of 7 tertiary and 7 secondary eye hospitals, 6 community eye clinics and 108 Vision Centres. In addition, each year close to 3,000 outreach activities are carried out. The community eye clinics, rural Vision Centres and the outreach, by design address the access and affordability barriers, resulting in 1.74 million outpatient examinations, with Vision Centres accounting for close to 930,000 outpatient visits.

Community engagement is the cornerstone of Aravind’s outreach. All the non-clinical activities like publicising the outreach, building for examining the patients, mobilizing volunteers, getting necessary approvals are all done by the community partners, who now number over a 1,000. Many of the community partners have been engaged with Aravind in organizing the outreach for decades. In the outreach comprehensive eye examinations are carried out resulting in 25% to 30% of the patients being referred to the hospital for surgery (predominantly cataract), 10% referred for more complex conditions that require hospital-based diagnostics and another 15% to 20% getting a glass prescription, which most of them buy at the outreach site itself. Those referred for surgery are transported to the base hospital, provided surgery, transported back to the outreach site and followed up after a month, all at no cost to the patient.

This principle of providing comprehensive eye examinations at all levels of care and designing the services to close the care loop (enabling them to get the prescribed surgery/treatment) has resulted in the resolution of the problem and improved vision in most of those seeking care. This we believe has not only sustained the demand but resulted in steady growth.