Sankara Eye Foundation, USA (SEF, USA) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of curable blindness in India. SEF, USA was founded in 1998 in San Jose, California by K. Muralidharan, K. Sridharan and Ahmad Khushnood. With hundreds of volunteers, SEF, USA covers several cities in the US.
Q. Can you help me with the options to contribute?
You may donate for capital funds for the construction and update of various hospitals: Guntur, Bangalore, Shimoga, Anand, Ludhiana, and Kanpur. Now we are also collecting funds for the Madhya Pradesh hospital and the Telangana hospital – our next new projects.
Our popular option is the Wall of Founders: Donate $1000 towards the construction of a hospital of your choice and become a founding donor with your name or that of your loved one inscribed on the hospital wall forever.
We also have sponsorships at higher levels (room, ward, Operation Theater etc.); if you are interested we will have one of our Project coordinators talk to you or you can visit our website for more information. For the hospitals already inaugurated, we are raising funds for camps.
In addition, you can sponsor a cataract surgery for just $30.
Q. How can I become a volunteer?
SEF, USA primarily depends on volunteering efforts – so we need a lot of volunteers. There are many exciting areas to help with, and volunteers are encouraged to get involved in different areas as organizational needs vary throughout the year. Please visit the volunteer section of the SEF, USA website and complete the form with volunteer information. A representative from our Volunteer Resources team will get in touch with you soon.
Q. What services can visitors from the US receive at the SEF, India hospitals?
Visitors from the US are encouraged to visit the hospitals in India. In addition to having the opportunity to tour a hospital, SEF, USA donors and supporters can receive the following services for a fee: comprehensive eye exam, purchasing of contact lenses and other eyewear, cataract surgery, and other surgeries. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. High school and medical students have internship opportunities at several of our hospitals. Please visit the internships section of the SEF, USA website for internship information.
Q. What marketing opportunities are available for companies to sponsor SEF events?
SEF, USA does several events throughout the year, including major concerts with current Bollywood superstar singers. Sponsors of these events get unparalleled publicity. Please visit the events page on the SEF, USA website for sponsorship opportunities for upcoming events.
Q. What is Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF, India)?
SEF, India is our sister organization and part of the larger trust called the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Medical Trust. This trust operates under the auspices of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. SEF, USA deploys its funds in India by working with SEF, India.
Q. Who founded SEF, India?
SEF, India was founded in 1977 by Dr. R.V. Ramani and his wife Dr. Radha Ramani in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Q. How big is the problem in India?
An estimated 55 million people in India suffer from some form of visual handicap. Over 8 million are blind which is 1/5th of the world’s blind! These are incredibly large numbers and SEF’s bold vision is to work towards eradicating this problem by building 20 super specialty eye care hospitals across India providing free eye care to the needy.
Q. What is curable blindness?
Typically (and fortunately), most people suffer from eye problems such as cataract or glaucoma, which can be treated effectively. Unfortunately, in many parts of rural India, people do not know that this is curable nor do they have the resources available to get proper and timely medical attention. More than 80% of the blindness in India is curable.
Q. What is SEF’s Goal?
SEF’s goal is to bring vision 20/20 to the economically disadvantaged people all over India who suffer from curable blindness by establishing 20 replicable and sustainable Sankara eye hospitals all over India.
Q. What is your strategy to achieve that goal?
SEF’s strategy involves strengthening and expanding our already outstanding outreach program called Gift of Vision to all parts of India. As part of the Gift of Vision program, SEF, India plans to build at least 20 base hospitals across India.
Q. What programs does SEF, India offer?
Gift of Vision Program- Our rural outreach program which implies going to the economically disadvantaged people in rural areas who need the care and education instead of waiting for them to come to a hospital or medical institution for eye care. In this model, a base hospital caters to all the villages located within its 200-300 km radius. SEF field workers go door to door to the rural villages to perform first level vision screening to identify people with visual impairment. These patients are then screened and further evaluated by SEF doctors at eye camps conducted by SEF at or near the village. Those needing surgery and further treatment are taken to the base hospital in SEF buses. Patients stay at the base hospital for 3 days, and are provided accommodation, comprehensive medical examination, surgery, medicines, and food completely free of cost. After successful treatment, the patients are transported back to their villages and systematic follow-up is done after 30 days to ensure that patients have had successful recovery.
Services Available at Hospitals:
SEF, India hospitals offer a full range of eye care services including cataract, refractive errors, glaucoma, corneal blindness, laser vision correction, diabetic retinopathy, ocular oncology, pediatric ophthalmology, and eye banking, among others.
Rainbow Program- This is a school screening program in which teacher volunteers are trained to do the preliminary screening on students. After this, an eye care team consisting of an ophthalmologist and/or optometrist from the Sankara Eye Hospital screens the children. Children who need further treatment are transported to the Sankara Eye Hospital for a more comprehensive examination. If prescription eyeglasses are needed, then they are distributed free of charge.
Swagatham- Comprehensive neonatal screening program in which newborns are screened for congenital defects
Maitri- Screening program for preschoolers age 3-6 attending integrated child development centers or orphanages. Children suspected of having visual defects are transported to the base hospital.
Eye Bank - Recognized by the Government of India as a model eye bank for the Nation, SEF, India’s Eye Bank was established in 1985 and is considered the most successful eye bank in the country. The Eye Bank receives a pair of eyes almost every day and has carried out over 4,000 corneal transplants. SEF, India also provides donor cornea to other eye banks for emergency transplants.
Sankara Academy of Vision- Training center in Bangalore, Karnataka established in 2012 to recruit and train staff including paramedics and optometrists for upcoming Sankara Eye Hospitals as well as train existing staff.
Q. Are there other institutions doing such work?
India is very fortunate in that many institutions are helping eradicate curable blindness. However, India, which has an estimated 55 million people with visual handicap, requires a lot more support to completely eradicate curable blindness.
Q. What sets SEF, India apart from other eye care providers in India?
* SEF, India is a 38 year-old charitable eye care trust
* SEF, India is the largest charitable eye care institution in the developing world
* SEF, India recently completed over one million totally free eye surgeries in India
* SEF, India performs over 500 free eye surgeries every day
* SEF, India is the only eye care institution globally functioning on a 80 Free:20 Paying ratio while most other eye care providers function with 20:80 or 30:70 or 50:50 ratios
* SEF, India is the only pan Indian eye care institution trying to serve the needy rural folks in every state of India
Q. By the way, why are you focused on eye care when there are other more pressing things such as hunger, basic shelter and education…
We recognize there are several ways people can contribute to bettering the lives of economically disadvantaged people in India. There are several wonderful charitable organizations working on these causes as well. We believe that given the seriousness of the problem, the opportunity of putting people back to work and on their way to independent living is very meaningful to the community.
Q.What has the impact of SEF, India been since inception?
As of May 31, 2015:
- 19,283 camps conducted
- 1,306,251 free surgeries performed
- 3,541,133 patients screened through the Gift of Vision Program
- 5,078,882 children screened through the Rainbow program
- 105,909 eyeglasses distributed for free to children
-7,538 pediatric surgeries performed
Q. Which hospitals do you support?
SEF supports the following hospitals:
1. Sankara Eye Center, Coimbatore, T.N, Mission Headquarters (Estd 1977)
2. Sankara Eye Hospital, Guntur, A.P, inaugurated in Mar 2004.
3. Sankara Eye Hospital, Krishnankoil, T.N, donated to us in 2004
4. Sankara Eye Hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka; Inaugurated in Mar 2008
5. Sankara Eye Hospital, Shimoga, Karnataka; inaugurated in Oct 2008
6. Sankara Eye Hospital, Anand, Gujarat; inaugurated in Oct 2008
7. Sankara Eye Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab; inaugurated in Mar 2012
8. Sankara Eye Hospital, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh; inaugurated in Oct 2014
Q. Where will future SEF, India hospitals be constructed?
We are planning to continue expansion in the coming years in North, Central, and East India. The next hospitals will be located in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana.
Q. How often do you conduct rural eye camps?
In recent years, we have conducted at least 150 eye camps a month. Not a single week has gone by without an eye camp.
Q. What is the approach to achieve self-sufficiency?
All our hospitals will provide the most advanced and highest quality eye care to attract paying patients. All base community hospitals have a Free vs. Paid patient ratio of 80:20. (may vary slightly from state to state) This means that 80 rural poor patients are served for free through rural outreach with revenues derived from 20 urban paying patients.
Q. Can I choose the hospital where my donation should go to?
You can choose to donate for specific hospital construction projects – Please check our website for latest opportunities. But if donating for surgeries, we leave it to the hospitals in India to use the funds where they are needed the most.
Q. How can I contribute to the construction of a new SEF, India hospital?
Various naming opportunities are available for the new hospitals to get your name or the name of your loved ones inscribed at the hospital. You can donate towards the “Wall of Founders” ($1,000, $5,000 or $10,000) or towards specific rooms such as the free-patient ward, operating theatres, consultation rooms, clinics, or patient rooms starting from $20,000 at the new hospital. For hospitals beyond Rajasthan, we also need support in acquiring the land. You can also volunteer to further this cause.
Q. How much can I contribute for hospital construction?
Any amount will go a long way in helping our cause.
Following are some of the examples you can contribute towards
- $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 Wall of Founders
- $20,000 + Rooms
- $100,000 Patient Wards
Please check the website for more details or call 1-866 Sankara
Q. Do you have monthly donation programs?
Open an eye a month with $30/month. You also have the option to sign up for automatic monthly direct debit from your checking account or credit card. Of course, you may sign up to donate any amount - either towards surgery or new hospital construction – on a monthly basis.
Q. Will I get a receipt for my contribution?
Every donation, regardless of the amount, will be acknowledged with a receipt within 3 to 4 weeks. Donations made online will be acknowledged by an email receipt upon completion of the transaction. For surgical donations, we also send the donors a certificate with information about the date of surgery and the name of the patient/beneficiary.