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Sankara Nethralaya

Sankara Nethralaya (SN) is a not-for-profit missionary institution for ophthalmic care (i.e., an eye hospital) in Chennai, India. In "Sankara Nethralaya" Sankara is a reference to Adi Shankaracharya and Nethralaya means "The Temple of the Eye". Sankara Nethralaya receives patients from India and internationally.

Nani A. Palkivala, former Indian ambassador to United States, described Sankara Nethralaya as the "Best managed charitable organization in India". Sankara Nethralaya has 1000 employees and serves 1200 patients per day, performing 100 surgeries per day. The annual revenue as per the taxes is close to US$100 million.


In 1976 when addressing a group of doctors, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the Sankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam spoke of the need to create a hospital. On the command of Dr. Sengamedu Srinivasa Badrinath, with a group of philanthropists founded a charitable not-for-profit eye hospital. In a solemn function held at the premises of the Vijaya Hospital with Semmangudi Srinivasa Aiyer offering the prayer, Dr. T Agarwal inaugurated the project.

On the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi, 6 September 1978, the hospital came into existence. It was named Sankara Nethralaya, which means "The Temple of the Eye".

Today Sankara Nethralaya has its services running at five locations in Chennai and has services at Mukundapur in Kolkata, Hebbal in Bengaluru, Rameshwaram and Tirupati in Andhra Pradeshhas plans to expand in more states and possibly other countries.

Sankara Nethralaya has fellowships in Vitreo Retina, Glaucoma, Cornea etc. BS Optometry, MSMLT and Ophthalmic Nursing courses are run here in collaboration with BITS Pilani.


Sankara Nethralaya has been branching out very fast recently. Apart from the five centres in Chennai and in Kolkata and Rameswaram, the hospital is now present in Bengaluru, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh as TTD Sri Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya.


  • Sankara Nethalaya Main Campus
  • JKCN
  • C. U. Shah Sankara Nethralaya
  • Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya
  • Sankara Nethalaya Super Speciality Clinic (SNSSC)
  • Sankara Nethalaya, Kolkata
  • Sankara Nethalaya Optometry Clinic, Olympia Tech Park, Chennai
  • Sankara Nethalaya, Rameshwaram
  • Sri Srinivasa Sankara Nethalaya, Tirupati

Community ophthalmology

The Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre at Sankara Nethralaya offers free services to economically weaker sections.

International patients

Apart from receiving patients from all over the country, Sankara Nethralaya renders service to international patients including the US, UK and Bangladesh.

CU Shah Eye Bank

Sri C U Shah Eye Bank started functioning in Sankara Nethralaya in September 1979. The department of Medical Sociology was established in 1990 with the aim of promoting awareness on eye donation by educating and motivating the public for this noble cause.


Sankara Nethralaya was one of the first to implement electronic medical records in its facility with the complete OPD and the procedures done in the OPD available online thereby removing transferring of Records manually between complexes. Very soon electronic medical records will be implemented in the in-patient area. In stem cell research, a collaborative project on corneal stem cells have been underway with Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Chennai (India).[1]


Ophthalmic course

From its inception in 1978, the C U Shah Ophthalmic Postgraduate Training Center has been offering fellowship programmes in Vitreo-Retinal Surgery and General Ophthalmology to holders of postgraduate degree and diploma in Ophthalmology. The center (M C I Approved) offer training programmes for graduates in Post graduation in Ophthalmology. The center also conducts the final FRCS Examination (Ophthalmology) of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh).

Courses offered

  • Diplomate of National Board of Examination (DNB) Ophthalmology (three years) recognized by the National Board of Examinations
  • Diplomate of National Board: Two-year postdoctoral Vitreoretinal fellowship recognized by National Board of Examination
  • Fellowship in General Ophthalmology, Cornea, Uvea, Oculoplastis, Glaucoma and, Vitreoretinal. Session starts April and October.
  • Cataract Surgery (Basic & Advanced) Sir Ratan Tata two-month fellowship. Session starts January/April/July and October.
  • Ph.D. programmes in Ophthalmology, Biochemistry & Microbiology affiliated to Tamil Nadu Dr M G R Medical University, Chennai

Elite School of Optometry (ESO)

The Elite School of Optometry (ESO) is the first and leading college of optometry in India offering a four-year professional degree: B.S. Optometry.

The college is run by Sankara Nethralaya in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. At close proximity to the Chennai International Airport, Chennai, ESO has a diverse student community coming from states across the country. ESO is considered the IIT of optometry in India.[citation needed] The college gives its students a strong academic foundation and excellent clinical training.

The SN Academy

The Sankara Nethralaya Academy – with a distinctive series of programmes and expert faculty – aims to create a pool of well-trained eye care professionals competent to meet challenges in ophthalmology.

The academy serves as a platform for creating, processing and disseminating knowledge related to eye care, ophthalmic research and hospital administration.

The institution offers wide-ranging certificate and fellowship programmes to train ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses and administration personnel. It provides ophthalmologists, optometrists, researchers and other eye care practitioners around the world an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skill.


Vision Research Foundation

Vision Research Foundation (VRF) has, over the last two decades, been doing premier work in the areas of ocular infections, cataract, tumours, angiogenesis and genetic basis of eye diseases and pathobiology of other ophthalmic disorders. Scientists working with VRF have developed basic techniques in applied medical biotechnology essential to understand disease processes involved in ophthalmology particularly related to etio-pathogenesis and identification of infectious, genetic and malignant disorders. VRF has applied for four patents in Diagnostic Microbiology. One of the patents awarded was on corneal limbal stem cell in vitro expansion [2] for treating ocular surface disorders jointly with Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine.[3] Five candidates have been awarded PhD degree and 13 doctoral candidates are registered with Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University and Birla Institute of Science and Technology, Pilani. The main strength of the group lies in the fact that they work together with ophthalmologists and basic vision scientists, besides having a large clinical resource as patients come from all over India to Sankara Nethralaya.

Vision Research Foundation has research laboratory facilities in the areas of Pathology, Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology. The facilities of VRF were located in an old building which has been demolished providing sufficient space to raise a new building for vision research.[1]


A unique teleophthalmology project was started in villages in a 100 km radius of Chennai with a mobile bus offering primary eye care. It was inaugurated by the former president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in 2003. The key to the project was a mobile bus, designed by a team from Sankara Nethralaya with assistance from the Indian Space Research organization.

Sankara Nethralaya Women's Auxiliary (SWAN)

Registered as a public charitable trust in 1984, SWAN volunteers have served Sankara Nethralya. All medical and post operative needs of poor patients, including food and spectacles, are taken care by SWAN volunteers. This apart, SWAN volunteers assists patients in the hospital, help the Medical Records Department, Library, Patient service dept, organise conferences, events, maintain the STD booths, utility and coffee shop at the hospital premises.

In 2009, SWAN added another feather in its cap: 25 years of selfless service.

Awards and recognitions

  • Sankara Nethralaya has won the Corporate Citizen Award in Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2007.[4]
  • Sankara Nethralaya was adjudged "Best Eye Hospital in India" by a survey conducted by Outlook magazine (July 2002).
  • The Week (April 2005) and more recently by a survey conducted by The Week (April 2007)...
  • Sankara Nethralaya received an award from NASSCOM for the Best IT Adoption in the Healthcare Sector. The function took place at Mumbai on 26 November 2008.

See also

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External links