Sight for All: Ophthalmology in Delhi


Preventable blindness and other visual impairments are significant public health challenges in India. India bears the highest burden of the world’s blind, with an estimated 1 out of every 3 blind people in the world. Over 2 million children are blind with only 5% of them receiving any education. However, most cases of blindness are curable or preventable with early clinical intervention. Unfortunately, these services are overwhelmingly located in urban cities while a majority of the population lives in rural areas. Despite these grim statistics, there are organizations championing this cause and bringing ophthalmological care to the individuals and communities most in need.

Join one such organization in their heroic efforts to reduce preventable visual handicaps. Located in Delhi, this NGO’s mission is to bring quality eye care to the doorstep of the visually afflicted, the majority of whom live below the poverty line in urban slums and rural areas of India. In operation for over 25 years, it strives to bring some of the most sophisticated diagnostic and surgical facilities available to some of India's poorest, regardless of their ability to pay for these services.

During this clinically-focused program, rotate under local healthcare workers in all departments of the eye institute's hospital in Delhi. As available, join primary mobile eye care clinics, observe ophthalmic procedures in the operating theater, participate in advanced level classes at the institute and witness their community-based rehabilitation program, which includes trainings for community level field workers at satellite hospitals in surrounding villages. Students will be based in Delhi and take trips to surrounding villages and towns. 

Become immersed in Indian culture while living in a private apartment in a residential neighborhood in south Delhi. Visit Delhi’s numerous museums, restaurants, and shops or visit World Heritage sites like the Red Fort or Humayun's Tomb. CFHI participants may also choose to organize day trips over the weekend to the spectacular Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. 

CFHI offers options for students and faculty to fit your interests and schedule. Choose your program duration, or for a comparative experience, choose to participate in multiple programs. CFHI can also often accommodate alternate program dates upon request. For more information see our How to Apply page.


4 Weeks $2,745
5 Weeks $3,395
6 Weeks $4,045
7 Weeks $4,695
8 Weeks $5,345
9 Weeks $5,995
10 Weeks $6,645
Arrival Dates: 
Sep 04, 2021 Oct 02, 2021 Nov 06, 2021 Dec 04, 2021 Jan 01, 2022 Feb 05, 2022 Mar 05, 2022 Apr 02, 2022 May 07, 2022 Jun 04, 2022 Jul 02, 2022 Aug 06, 2022 Sep 03, 2022 Oct 01, 2022 Nov 05, 2022 Dec 03, 2022 

Clinical Rotations 

Join this pioneering NGO one such organization in their effort to reduce preventable visual handicaps. All clinical rations and public health activities will be based out of this local NGO. This pioneering NGO is a comprehensive eye care delivery network comprising of a referral and teaching ophthalmological hospital in Delhi, 7 satellite hospitals, 25 primary Clinics and 15 community-based programs covering 9 states in northern India, serving over 300,000 patients and rehabilitating 300-500 persons every year. It also offers community rehabilitation programs, having served over 3,000 people with vision, hearing and motor impairments. Other community-based projects offer diabetic patients screening for diabetic retinopathy. 

Education- Attend lectures ranging from eye structure and functions, optics and refractions, contact lens, low vision and common eye diseases. In addition to these academic sessions, attend regular sessions with local post-graduate students several days a week.

Clinical rotations- Both the base and the various satellite hospitals are equipped to perform routine surgeries and are staffed with qualified ophthalmologists and paramedics permanently stationed at each of these hospitals. Learn from healthcare professionals in these various sites.

Base Hospital in New Delhi- In the base hospital in New Delhi, join local healthcare personnel and witness their efforts to provide services in the out patient department, eye bank, operation theater and in the various outreach activities, which include mobile clinics providing primary eye care to underserved. Also join local staff and learn about education for visually challenged by visiting a school run by this pioneering NGO.

Rural Satellite Hospital rotation- Spend a week at a semi-rural satellite hospital working alongside a local resident physician. Join the local team who conduct regular screening camps in the district in order to spread awareness about preventable eye diseases, conducting screenings at local schools with the aim of reducing visual impairment among children, and enhancing community awareness.

CFHI is considered a global health ethics leader therefore CFHI programs uphold strict standards and comply with all local laws regarding student involvement in health settings. Your experience on the program depends on your previous clinical training (if applicable), Spanish level, and the relationship you build with your supervising preceptor. Above all, YOU are the most important factor in making the CFHI experience as fulfilling as possible by being respectful, culturally humble, inquisitive, and open to the wide variety of learning experiences which you will encounter.


India is the seventh-largest country in the world and the second-most populous with over 1.2 billion people. There are over 20 languages spoken across India’s twenty-nine states. The country is also the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. India offers a rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse landscape unlike anywhere in the world, as well as breathtaking architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal and Golden Temple.

New Delhi, the bustling capital of India, is sprawled over the west bank of the river Yamuna and is one of the fastest growing cities in India, one of the largest cities in the world. Delhi’s historic monuments intersperse with modern infrastructure and government buildings to create a unique city fabric. A true urban experience, the movement, colors, sights, and sounds of Delhi

Things to Do

CFHI participants have free time during most evenings and weekends and may choose to organize weekend trips to nearby destinations and take part in cultural activities offered within Delhi itself.

Visit Delhi’s numerous museums, restaurants, and shops or visit World Heritage sites like the Red Fort or Humayun's Tomb. CFHI participants may also choose to organize trips to the spectacular Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

Accommondations & Homestays

Participants stay in apartments in a residential area of Delhi in the same building as CFHI’s India Director. CFHI accomodations provide a unique opportunity to learn about local culture and live amongst locals in a residential area.

The apartments have have either two or three bedrooms, a bathroom with India style toilets and shower, and a common living room area. Acommodations are comfortable and include two meals a day. A local caretaker will provide the meals and cleaning of the apartment. At the welcome orientation, participants will be instructed on recommended transportation from housing to the clinical and public health sites and getting around the city.

Eligibility: Who Can Apply?

This CFHI program is ideal for students and non-students of all levels and health disciplines who have an interest in and a passion for public health and ophthalmology in developing countries. The program focuses on opthamology and the challenge and value of bringing quality eyecare to populations within Delhi, the majority of whom live below the poverty line. For more information, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.

Language Required: English

India is a multicultural and diverse country with over 30 different languages spoken by more than a billion native speakers. English and Hindi are considered the language of government and business and are widely spoken by most professionals and used daily in many business and academic settings.

Hindi is used widely in the northern Indian region where Delhi is located. Professionals at the various NGOs and CFHI staff you will interact with speak fluent English. You may find that daily communication amongst locals and community members will be in Hindi. However, the Local Coordinator will often accompany participants during rotations and can provide interpretation if needed.

Arrival Information

Participants should arrive in Delhi, India on the program start date and will be picked up from the airport by a CFHI representative and taken to their housing. A welcome orientation will take place the Sunday or Monday after arrival.

US citizens and others should apply for an Indian tourist visa in advance. More information and specific instructions on visa applications will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.

What's Included

CFHI Program fees include the majority of your on the ground costs. As a nonprofit, CFHI strives to keep fees low and offers fundraising opportunities, scholarships and discounts.

Pre-Departure Support

  • Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
  • Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.

On-Site Services

  • Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to housing in Delhi, India with local CFHI representative
  • Welcome orientation with other participants covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
  • CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
  • Weekly meetings and lectures on local healthcare system with a focus on ophthalmolgy and eye care
  • Placement and coordination of public health and clinical activities
  • Accommodation, two meals a day
  • Local cell phone
  • International emergency medical and evacuation insurance

Post-Return Resources

  • Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
  • CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved

Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more.

Hema Pandey- CFHI India Director: The role of the India Director is to coordinate and manage activities for all CFHI programs in India. Hema has been instrumental in establishing CFHI's growing presence in India, developing new program sites and researching CFHI's growth potential in-country. She has worked for CFHI since 2005. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Commerce from Kurukshetra University and a PG diploma Fashion Design from International Institute of Fashion Technology. Her professional interests include rural and urban healthcare, water and sanitation, gender, social development. She likes helping CFHI students achieve academic and personal goals and develop leadership skills during their time on program. In her free time she enjoys photography, travelling with family, volunteering, basketball, and cycling.

What Alumni Say

"Sight For All was an incredibly well-organized rotation that was very beneficial to my education. I was able to see how ophthalmologic care was administered in a high-volume setting, and how different approaches to cataract surgery are utilized to make the biggest visual impact for the patient population. I think I participated in the rotation at an advantageous point in my career (fourth-year medical student) and would highly recommend it to other medical students."

-Christina Donaghy, 2016, 4th Year Medical Student

"The patient would tell the physician, “this eye has been made before”. Similar common phrases were used for other eye diseases such as glaucoma and an over production of mucus. Obviously these phrases were spoken in their native language Hindi, however, it was interesting to see how patients didn’t exactly understand what surgery they had undergone. They just understood that they were having trouble seeing and that they needed to show a physician. The experience was humbling, gave me a better perspective on how health care has to be delivered because of patient’s education level and because of the tremendous population..." Read More.

-Sameer Aggarwal, September 2011, Post Bacc.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a global roadmap set forth by the United Nations General Assembly to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure the well-being of all individuals by the year 2030. This program highlights the following SDGs: