“Many people suffered blindness needlessly in our country because they did not even
know about a procedure as basic as a cataract operation,” shared Dr. Rani Geetha
Priyadarshini, Associate Professor (OB and HR) at the
“This fact led to the founding of the Aravind Eye Care Systems (AECS) in 1976 when
Govindappa Venkatawamy retired as the Head of Ophthalmology from a medical
college in Madurai and decided to find a solution to the problem.”
The organization operates with a unique service-oriented model. Free treatment and
care is made available to those who cannot pay. For all the rest, affordable eye care
services are provided. Cataract surgeries form 70% of all operations.
In 2008-2009 (most recent years for which figures are available), over 1,50,000 people
availed of the free services at AECS. An equal number paid for their services at very
The organization follows unique HR practices also. It trains mid-level ophthalmic
personnel, mostly women from villages, who are trained in a two-year course. These
women never had the chance to go to college, now they get the opportunity to enter the
work stream as mid-tier technicians.
“The HR policies practiced here have been AECS’s trump card,” affirmed Dr.
Recently a case study on AECS titled Eye Care for All authored by Dr. Priyadarshini
was published by Society for Human Resources Management in India.
In the case, Dr. Priyadarshini elaborated on the unique HR model of the eye care
provider that has seen such substantial expansion in a few decades.
“Integration of facilities and support systems ensure that a surgeon here can perform
2,000 surgeries per year against the global average of around 500,” she noted. “Surgeons
perform six to eight operations per hour on an assembly line basis with the support of
internally-trained mid-level ophthalmic personnel.”
“AECS has well-evolved inhouse training operations. Currently, it runs programs...