Sankara Nethralaya, IIT-Madras develop mobile cataract unit

The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and Sankara Nethralaya have developed a mobile cataract surgery unit that can travel to remote areas. The idea was developed in response to the need for better facilities in rural areas.

Cataract is one of the leading causes of blindness in India accounting for around half the reversible blindness in the country. The number of cataract blind which was 7.75 million in 2001 is set to increase to 8.25 million in 2020 in India.

The surgical unit consists of two vehicles - one preparation vehicle consisting of patient preparation setup, changing room, and chemical toilet, and one surgery vehicle consisting of the operating chamber and sterilization chamber. Having two vehicles instead of one large vehicle will enable the surgery unit to access rural areas.

"We have been successful in eradicating cataract blindness in urban areas. My dream is to have services available in tribal areas. If the prototype surmounts all the challenges then this could become a model in western India too," says chairman emeritus of Sankara Nethralaya Dr S S Badrinath.

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