Dr. Mehul Shah
Dr. Shreya Shah
“The best way to find you is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
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.
In a rural place that falls under the second largest tribal belt of India, where “poverty” has its own definition, where thousands of people lose their sights every year for not being privileged enough to spend a meager amount of Rs 100 for treatment or Rs 3,500 for surgery (which their urban counterparts would easily shell out for an evening coffee or weekend dinner respectively), were avoiding eye treatment is preferred choice for the tribal “bhils” overspending their hard-earned money on treatment, where ignorance to eye care seldom leads to the only earning member of a family to go blind for life – a couple decided to take the path less traveled and brought about an unprecedented change, a phenomenon called “Drashti Netralaya” that would ultimately make this area a Blindness Free Zone !!!
The place is Dahod, located at a tri-junction of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. The couple is DR Mehul Shah, specialized in the field of Retina and Vitreous, and Dr. Shreya Shah, and specialized in Pediatric ophthalmology and Oculoplastic surgeon.
Being the inhabitant of Dahod, the doctor couple started a private clinic called “Drashti Netralaya” in the year of 1992 in their hometown. With a noble intention of serving the poor, they rendered “free of cost” services on Saturdays, of course with no difference in the quality of treatment. Soon, their work was recognized by the community and the term “Ophthalmic Mission Activity” was coined for the Saturday activities. The requirements of free services increased as days passed by and free services were extended to Fridays in a year’s time. This model worked for 6 years, performing 5 to 6 cataract surgeries per day with intraocular lens implantation by a phacoemulsification machine. During this time, people poured in their support in terms of money and voluntary services, and there emerged the need to register these activities. June 3, 1999, OPHTHALMIC MISSION TRUST received its registration certificate from Gujarat Government.
Desperate time calls for desperate measures. Considering the huge backlog of eye surgeries that had piled up over the years in absence of free quality services in this area, the couple decided to convert their private hospital into a Charitable one. On 1st April 2001, they donated their private hospital and equipment to a charitable hospital and they became paid servants of Ophthalmic Mission Trust. With this, they let go of their flourishing practice and private income while still in their 30’s!!!
Since then their services have expanded leaps and bounds and attracted support from numerous local, national, and international organizations. The journey however has been nothing less than a long battle against all odds. Working for around 14 to 15 hours a day for over 30 years the duo has achieved the impossible feat of performing more than 15,000 free surgeries every year at Drashti Netralaya and around 75,000 patients being examined for eye problems at the base hospital and during outreach, without compromise to quality.
In spite of being located in the backward area, all the records of all patients are computerized and the hospital is equipped with world-class instruments and technology, thanks to the Technology vision in the mind of the founders from day one.
Relentless and selfless work carried out by the duo has not gone unnoticed by various national and international organizations and their work has been recognized time and again.
Below are the feathers in their cap – the awards received along the way in addition to 1,50,000+ surgeries