The department of Ophthalmology started functioning as a part of Kasturba Hospital in the late 1950's and initially had a staff of two doctors. The department was upgraded and started conducting outdoor camps to control blindness after it was associated with the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (RCSB). The blindness control programs got steam following the association with Operation Eyesight Universal in 1974 and became an associate teaching-hospital of Operation Eyesight Universal in 1975. During this period the department was furnished with modern instruments and began functioning as a full-fledged unit.

Thereafter, the department started to flourish as a centre of excellence under Dr. P. N. Srinivasa Rao. Kasturba Hospital Manipal was one of the first institutions to practice ECCE in camps way back in the early 1980's and later successfully implanted IOL's in camps with good results. It is to be noted that community ophthalmic services were rendered without disturbing the base hospital work.

The department, since its inception, has always focused on treating blindness in the community around Manipal. With this aim, the department ventured out to conduct camps nearby and then expanded to places like Ranebennur and Hirekerur in Haveri district and Karwar in Uttar Kannada district. The camps were conducted in places like schools to increase accessibility to the people. Selected patients were operated in the locality itself in makeshift theatres set up by the support staff. This system continued till 1992.

Thereafter, the surgeries were shifted from the camps to the base hospital in Manipal to provide excellent surgical and post-operative care. This was followed by shift to routine ECCE and phacoemulsification. Till 1992, 304 eye camps were conducted and 3, 27,000 patients were examined, and 31,197 patients were operated. These camps were designated as Blind Relief Surgical Eye Camps. 

Since 1992, the camps were redesignated as DTE (Diagnostic Treatment and Evaluation). About 1500 camps have been conducted, about 1,82,000 patients have been examined and 16,500 surgeries conducted till date. These patients were operated at the base hospital at Manipal and a team of doctors from Manipal reviewed the operated patients after one month at the campsite itself. In 2000, funds for the camps from Operation Eyesight Universal dried up. However, with help from voluntary agencies like Lions Club, Rotary Club and other voluntary agencies, camp services are still continuing.

The availability of almost all ophthalmic subspecialities and their demonstration to UG and PG students through audio-visual as well as patient interaction, not only provides optimal therapeutic facilities for patients, but also enhances and enriches the learning experience for students.


Key Features

  • One of the oldest departments at Manipal Academy of Higher Education and in existence for more than 60 years
  • Students shown live surgeries through video attachments to surgical microscopes for better understanding of concepts in Ophthalmology.
  • UG students are posted in rotation in the out-patient clinics with various consultants who demonstrate clinical examination skills as well as rare cases of interest.
  • Uses the concept of “Integrated teaching –learning” wherein faculty of other basic sciences and medicine branches share their expertise with our postgraduates on topics of relevance in ophthalmology.
  • Excellent infrastructure and faculty profile
  • Curriculum is designed to facilitate students in pursuing higher education in India and abroad
  • Manipal Academy of Higher Education Scholarships for top 10% of the students in each program.
  • Screening of diabetic retinopathy in the camps and RMCW homes using non mydriatic fundus  camera. School screening programmes House to house screening of ocular disease by undergraduate and postgraduate students. The department has an excellent alumni association (OEU Alumni association)



Two projects in Retinal imaging have been undertaken with industrial collaboration with the grant of Rs. 12 lakhs and Rs.3 lakhs.

  • Investigator:   Dr. Krishna Rao A., Dr. Lavanya G.Rao

           Project title: Retinal Imaging

           Location:  Dept. of Ophthalmology, KMC, Manipal

           Funding agency: I R C Bangalore

           Period of research: 1 year.    

           Amount of research grant: 12 lakhs.

           No. of patents received / applied: 1,500


  • Investigator:  Dr. Sulatha V. Bhandary, Dr. Lavanya G. Rao

           Project title: Small pupil retinal imaging

           Location: Department of Ophthalmology, KMC, Manipal.

           Funding agency: Trinethra, Forus innovation Bangalore


About the Area of Study

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that studies the physiological and disease processes involving the eye, and their management.