A Sustainable Model For Delivering High-Quality, Efficient Cataract Surgery In Southern India

Health Aff (Millwood). 2016 Oct 1;35(10):1783-1790. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0562.


Cataracts are a leading cause of reversible blindness in India, where millions of people can be effectively treated for this condition with surgery. The Aravind Eye Care System in southern India developed an efficient system for delivering high-quality and low-cost cataract surgery. We provide a detailed accounting of costs of cataract surgery at the system and a cost-utility analysis. Total costs per operation were US$120, or $195 per quality-adjusted life-year gained. Using these data and population-based estimates of cataract prevalence, we calculate that eliminating cataract-related blindness and low vision in India would cost $2.6 billion and would yield a net societal benefit of $13.5 billion. Factors contributing to the highly cost-effective care at the Aravind Eye Care System include the domestic manufacturing of supplies, the use of a specialized workforce and standardized protocols, and the presence of few regulatory hurdles. Lessons learned from the system can help improve the delivery of cataract surgery and other ambulatory care surgeries in India and abroad.

Keywords: Developing World < International/global health studies; Organization and Delivery of Care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / epidemiology
  • Blindness / prevention & control
  • Cataract Extraction / economics
  • Cataract Extraction / methods
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular / economics
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular / methods
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years