Lexington-Based Vision-Aid to establish National Resource Center for the visually impaired at Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai

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From L-to-R: Dr. Ravindran, Chairman of Aravind, Dr. P. Vijayalakshmi, Head of Pediatrics and Low Vision, Revathy Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna Raju, Founders, Vision-Aid USA, Dr. Sahitya, Ms. Flora of the Low Vision Department, Mr. M.S.Raju (Volunteer President of Vision-Aid India)

LEXINGTON, MA–Vision-Aid, a Lexington, MA-based non-profit organization with a mission to rehabilitate the visually impaired people in India, announced that it has entered into a partnership with Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, to establish a National Resource Center for the visually impaired at Aravind Eye Hospital.

Aravind is the largest, and widely considered to be one of the most productive eye care system in the world, seeing approximately 1.4 million patients a year, and performing about 200,000 cataract surgeries annually. Its legendary founder, Dr. Venkata Swamy (Dr. V) performed 100,000-plus cataract surgeries personally during his lifetime. Muhammad Yunus acclaimed Aravind as an organization which “reveals the power of a model that combines business discipline with compassion.”

More than two-thirds of Arvind’s patient base is poor and gets free treatment. The remaining one-third pay reasonable fees which, due to its sheer scale, is enough to sustain, Aravind’s operating cost. Even though Aravind is best known for its primary eye care functions, and cataract surgeries, a lesser known fact is that thousands of patients end up each year in the Low Vision Rehabilitation section, because they have terminal vision conditions that cannot be corrected or cured. Common examples of such visual impairments include macular degeneration, and Retinitis Pigmentosa. Patients sometimes have degenerative conditions which lead to complete blindness over time.

To help Aravind address this monumental challenge, Vision-Aid will join hands with Aravind to setup a state-of-the-art National Resource Center for persons with vision related disabilities. Aravind will provide a dedicated modern space and qualified staff. Vision-Aid will provide Aravind with the funding, equipment, devices, training and expertise to establish the first phase of a Vision-Aid National Resource Center at Aravind starting in the Fall of 2018. The center’s programs aim to offer high quality, free and subsidized rehabilitation services, as well as devices for an estimated one thousand visually impaired persons in the first year alone with further expansion likely in future phases.

From L-to-R: Dr. Ravindran, Chairman of Aravind, Dr. P. Vijayalakshmi, Head of Pediatrics and
Low Vision, Revathy Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna Raju, Founders, Vision-Aid USA, Dr. Sahitya,
Ms. Flora of the Low Vision Department, Mr. M.S.Raju (Volunteer President of Vision-Aid India)

Celebrating this occasion, Vision-Aid President Syed Ali Rizvi said: “With the opening of the Vision-Aid’s National Resource Center for the Visually Impaired at Aravind in an independent and dedicated facility, manned with trained staff, we will serve a larger base of people whose needs can be readily met in a professional setting. We will aim to provide them with the necessary resources, all under one-roof. On the one hand, there will be an early intervention program for visually impaired children with a complete assessment of their vision and offering of solutions, including low vision devices, and on the other hand we will provide appropriate computer training, livelihood and employment assistance, counselling and referral services for adults, and everything in between. In fulfilling the mission of Vision-Aid, we are grateful to our community of well-wishers, donors, volunteers and sponsors without whose constant engagement this would not be possible. Their faith, trust and support keeps us energized.”

Vision-Aid Founder Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju stated: “We are delighted to partner with a world leader like Aravind, and expect this new program to become one of our signature programs in coming years. Our initial interactions with the team at Aravind have inspired confidence that we can hit the ground running and deliver impact quickly to a large segment of under-served patients.”

The first phase of this resource center is slated to open on October 1, 2018 – which coincidentally marks the 100th centenary celebrations of the remarkable life of its founder Dr. Venkata Swamy.

On July 22, Vision-Aid is hosting it annual fundraising event at Littleton High School in Littltone, MA. The event will feature a unique Broadway-style dance production “Golden Armor, Golden Heart”, with around 60 dancers and dance teachers working under the guidance of renowned dance producer from India, Maduari R. Muralidaran. Venkat Srinivasan and Pratima Srinivasan will be the chief guests and Venkat will keynote the Vison Aid annual event this year.

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