Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s speech at Beelagi, a village near Bijapur, in 1942, a young medical student decided to dedicate his life to providing free eyecare, going on to help lakhs of people, particularly those from rural and economically weak backgrounds.
Between his first camp held in 1943 at Pattan in Gujarat until his death in 2005, Murugappa Channaveerappa Modi examined over 10 million people and conducted over 7.8 lakh cataract surgeries with funds from philanthropists and donors.
Dr. Modi even entered the Guinness Book of World Records for conducting cataract surgery for 833 patients at an eye camp held at Tirupati in 1968. Recognising his service, the Karnataka government nominated him Member of Legislative Council, while the Union government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan.
In 1980, Dr. Modi set up the M.C. Modi Charitable Eye Hospital in Mahalakshmipuram: initially functioning as camp-based eye hospital, it treated thousands of poor and needy patients with eye ailments over the years, and is now a super-speciality eye hospital.
Headed by his son, Amarnath Modi, the hospital has been fully equipped with modern ophthalmic instruments, and all the required diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are routinely performed.
Operations and diabetic eye check-up camps are routinely held for free.
“Our aim is to reach common man and those from rural areas. We treat patients at 40 per cent less than what other speciality hospitals charge. Dr. Modi is our brand name. That is enough to continue our service and fulfil the aspirations of Dr. Modi,” says Mr. Nanjundappa, administrator of the hospital.
The hospital plans to set up a teleophthalmology annexe, aimed at reducing the widening gap between eyecare being given at established eye hospitals in cities and that available to people in rural areas.