Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy is Chairman of the Aravind Eye Hospitals in Madurai, India. He grew up in rural India and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry in 1938 from American College in Madurai. He obtained his MD from Stanley Medical College in Madras in 1944 and a Doctor of Ophthalmology at the Government Ophthalmic Hospital in Madras in 1951. In 1956, he was appointed head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Government Madurai Medical College, and eye surgeon at the Government Erskine Hospital in Madurai. He held these posts for 20 years and introduced the following programs:
- Eye Camp Programme (1960)
- Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (1966)
- Low Vision Aid Clinic (1968)
- Glaucoma Demonstration Center (1968)
- Ophthalmic Assistant Training Program (1973)
- Rural Rehabilitation for the Blind Project (1973)
Dr. Venkataswamy personally performed more than 100,000 successful eye surgeries. He also developed and pioneered the concept of eye camps and safe assembly-line techniques, which have become models for blindness prevention and treatment programs worldwide.
Upon retiring from Government service in 1976, at the mandatory Government retirement age of 58, he established the Aravind Eye Hospital. Under his leadership, Aravind has become the largest eye care training and research center in the world. To date more than 1.2 million eye surgeries have been performed and more than 11.9 million patients have benefited from services rendered.
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