Nirmal Ashram Eye Institute Combats Blindness in North Indian States

Based in New Jersey, former chief technology officer and director of risk management at the New York, NY, offices of Bank of America (BofA), Rao Chalasani contributes to several organizations that operate charitable programs in India, such as the Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF). Through the support of donors like former BofA executive Rao Chalasani, SEF is able to continue its mission to end curable blindness in India by providing funding for free eye surgeries performed at Indian hospitals operated by Sankara Eye Care Institutions (SECI), including Nirmal Ashram Eye Institute.

With the financial support of the Kewalramani family, Nirmal Ashram Eye Institute was founded on March 25, 2007, by the Nirmal Ashram charitable organization. Located in the Dehradun district city of Rishikesh, the hospital provides low-cost eye care to the underprivileged population in Uttaranchal and surrounding North Indian states.

SECI assumed management of the 100-bed hospital in 2010 to implement standards and introduce state-of-the-art facilities that would enable Nirmal Ashram Eye Institute to function as a comprehensive eye care center and ophthalmic training institute. Making good on these advances, SECI expects to meet the goal of performing 10,000 free eye surgeries each year at Nirmal, with the majority of the surgeries using small incisions that do not require sutures.

Currently the hospital is equipped to perform an array of specialized eye surgeries, including glaucoma surgery, pediatric eye procedures, and micro-incisional cataract surgery. Utilizing the modern technologies available at Nirmal, the qualified hospital staff also carries out diagnostic procedures, such as computerized eye testing, ultrasound of the eye, and fundus fluorescein angiography.

Nirmal brings its vision services outside of the hospital to community members in Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, and other local districts through community outreach programs like Gift of Vision. Focused on helping those in rural communities, Gift of Vision is a blindness cure and prevention initiative started in 1990 and supported by SEF, Rotary International, and Sight Savers. Eventually, Nirmal hospital is projected to conduct 2000 such annual vision-screening outreach camps for underserved residents in the districts surrounding the hospital.

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