Sankara Nethralaya - the Temple of the Eye

18, College Road, Nungambakkam,
Chennai - 600 006,
Tamil Nadu, India
1-877-393-7666 (US/Canada toll free)
0-800-917-6972 (UK)
+91 044-28271616 (main)


The Sankara Nethralaya institution, in Chennai, was set up in 1978, by Dr S. S. Badrinath as a facility to bring eye care to the population of India at an affordable price. In many areas of this vast country, a lot of people suffer from debilitating eye diseases that would be treated quickly and efficiently in the west. For this purpose, the facility has a ‘not for profit’ arm that is trying to raise donations, in order to fund at least 10 000 free operations every year. This will benefit the poorer members of society in India, with the facility performing 50% of its consultations and 40% of its surgeries free of charge.1,5  The institute is now spreading across India with new affiliate facilities in Bangalore, Assam, Kolkata and Jalna.5

In 2002, Sankara Nethralaya was rated as the best eye care in India by Outlook Magazine; similar awards followed from ‘The Week’ magazine in 2005 and 2007. The facility has over 1000 employees and serves 1200 patients every day, of which 100 undergo eye surgery procedures.1 In October 2007, Sankara Nethralaya received the  Indian Corporate Citizen of the Year award.5 It was also the first eye-hospital in Asia to receive the coveted ISO 9002 quality certification.1 The hospital, with the help of leading American institutions, is establishing a world class nanotechnology research facility; this will open up new possibilities for treating rare eye conditions and eye cancers.3

The website is very well laid out, and is full of information for the prospective health tourist. As well as attracting patients from the UK and US, the facility has official links with the Governments of Mauritius and Sultanate of Oman, to provide high quality eye care. For international patients, there is a designated International Relations Officer, who will assist in making arrangements for appointments, accommodation and flights.1 The website also has excellent descriptions of the problems that can affect the eye, and the procedures and equipment that can be used to treat them.1

Sankara Nethralaya offers a full and complete range of eye care procedures, from simple eye tests and contact fittings to major surgery. The center possesses a Lasik machine for permanent visual correction and the doctors are skilled in performing a whole range of surgical procedures. These include cataract removal, retinal reattachment, glaucoma treatment and pediatric procedures amongst others.1

The hospital possesses a wing entirely for paying patients and treats over 200 every day. As well as having its own operating theatres and Lasik, the facility contains dedicated recovery rooms and wards. Wherever possible, these services will be offered on an outpatient basis, although inpatient facilities are available.1 The facility is one of the largest eye hospitals in the world, with 242 beds and 22 operating theatres. The facility boasts a whole range of recovery room options, from shared double rooms, right through to deluxe single suites; the service includes 24h nursing care and a canteen. Sankara Nethralaya is well equipped with the latest diagnostic technology, including CT and MRI scans for neurological eye disorders.1

Reviews and reports about Sankara Nethralaya tend to be excellent, due to its charitable nature and willingness to plough profits from private care back into society.5,6