McSurgery: An Indian hospital is helping millions of people see again

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Hundreds of patients in green overalls queue up with black ticks on their foreheads, marking the eye to be operated on, beneficiaries of a groundbreaking Indian method that is restoring sight to millions.
Using a very efficient assembly line technique inspired by McDonald’s, the Aravind Eye Care System’s network of hospitals performs around 500,000 procedures a year, many of them for free. Moreover, a quarter of the world’s population, or 2.2 billion individuals, have vision impairment. According to the World Health Organization’s World Vision Report, one billion instances might have been prevented or treated.
In India, there are an estimated 10 million blind people and another 50 million visually impaired. There are an estimated 10 million blind people in India, with another 50 million with visual problems. Cataracts, or clouding of the eye lens, are the most prevalent cause.
“The bulk of this blindness is avoidable because cataract, which can be easily cured with a simple procedure,” said Thulasiraj Ravilla, one of Aravind’s founding members.
After being inspired by McDonald’s ex-CEO Roy Kroc and learning about the fast-food chain’s economies of scale during a visit to Hamburger University in Chicago, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy created the hospital.
“If McDonald’s can do it for hamburgers, why can’t we do it for eye care?” he famously questioned. In 1976, Aravind opened an 11-bed hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu’s southernmost city, and has since expanded to include care centers and community clinics.
Several studies have been done on the idea, including one conducted by Harvard Business School. However, because over 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas, the outreach camps have become the backbone of the country’s low-cost, high-volume operation.

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