Dr. Mehul and Shreya Shah
“The best way to find you is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
This is precisely what the Ophthalmologist couple Dr. Shreya Shah and Dr. Mehul Shah have internalized and living for 25 years, in the form of Drashti Netralaya and Ophthalmic Mission Trust.
Area of Intervention
Eye Care for the Underprivileged Communities
Dr. Mehul and Shreya Shah
- Sukhdas Maharaj Humanitarian Award, Mumbai
- Eye India 2006 Award, Pune
- Knight of the Blind, Chennai
- Eye Care 2012- Award, Chennai
- Gujarat Government-Chief Minister, Dahod
- NPCB-5 times, Gandhinagar
- Ministry of Health Sultanate of Oman, Salala, Oman
- Akhil Bhartiya Vaishnav Parishad, Dahod
- Community Ophthalmology Award, AICOS, Delhi.
- Dahod Ratna Award, Dahod
- FICCI-excellence in health care award, Delhi
In a rural area nestled within the second-largest tribal belt of India, where poverty takes on a unique definition, where thousands lose their sight every year due to an inability to afford even a meager sum of Rs 100 for treatment or Rs 3,500 for surgery (amounts their urban counterparts might spend on a casual evening coffee or weekend dinner), avoiding eye care becomes the preferred choice for the tribal “bhils.” In this environment, ignorance about eye care often leads to the sole breadwinner of a family going blind for life.
However, amidst these challenges, a remarkable couple chose the road less traveled and initiated an unprecedented change. They established “Drashti Netralaya,” which would eventually transform this region into a Blindness Free Zone.
Dahod, situated at the crossroads of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, is where this inspiring journey began. The couple behind this remarkable endeavor comprises Dr. Mehul Shah, specializing in Retina and Vitreous care, and Dr. Shreya Shah, specializing in Pediatric ophthalmology and Oculoplastic surgery.
Hailing from Dahod, this dedicated doctor couple embarked on a mission to make a difference. In 1992, they established “Drashti Netralaya,” a private clinic in their hometown. Their noble intention was to serve the underprivileged, and to this end, they began offering “free of cost” services every Saturday, maintaining the same high quality of treatment. It didn’t take long for their work to be recognized by the community, and the term “Ophthalmic Mission Activity” was coined to describe their Saturday initiatives. As the demand for free services grew, they extended their offerings to Fridays within a year.
This model continued successfully for six years, with the clinic performing 5 to 6 cataract surgeries per day, complete with intraocular lens implantation using a phacoemulsification machine. During this period, the community rallied behind them, providing both financial support and voluntary services. Eventually, the need arose to formalize and register these activities. On June 3, 1999, the “OPHTHALMIC MISSION TRUST” received its registration certificate from the Gujarat Government.
In response to the pressing need for eye surgeries in the area, which had accumulated due to the absence of free high-quality services, the couple took an extraordinary step. They converted their private hospital into a charitable one, making this significant decision on April 1, 2001. They donated their hospital and equipment to a charitable institution, becoming paid servants of the Ophthalmic Mission Trust. Remarkably, they relinquished their thriving practice and private income, all while they were still in their 30s.
Since this transformation, their services have expanded tremendously, garnering support from numerous local, national, and international organizations. Their journey, however, has been an arduous battle against all odds. Working tirelessly for 14 to 15 hours a day for over 30 years, this dynamic duo has achieved the incredible feat of performing more than 15,000 free surgeries annually at Drashti Netralaya. They have examined approximately 75,000 patients for eye problems at the base hospital and during outreach programs, all without compromising on quality.
Despite being located in an underserved region, they have maintained meticulous computerized records of all patients. The hospital is equipped with world-class instruments and technology, a testament to the founders’ visionary approach from day one.
The relentless and selfless efforts of this dedicated couple have not gone unnoticed. They have received recognition from various national and international organizations, earning numerous awards along the way, in addition to performing over 150,000 surgeries.