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The Art and Science of Vision and Visual systems take a giant step

The establishment of the Elite School of Optometry Sankara Nethralaya’s exclusive academic arm on the subject, several decades ago marked the beginning of a most important chapter in a rather less known field of eye care in the country. The institution which has over the years carved a place of pride for itself in terms of being a globally acknowledged institution in its field took a giant step forward with the ‘Bhumi Puja’ for its ‘Institute of Occupational Optometry and Visual Sciences’ at the Sri City Special Economic Zone in Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh. The auspicious beginning was made with great religious fervour under the auspices of Professor PP.Santanam, hailed as the ‘Father of Occupational Optometry’ in India and Srimathi Santanam. Dr. SS.Badrinath the Chief architect of the project used the opportunity to have an informal interaction with the local villagers gathered on the occasion, he explained the difference between ophthalmology and optometry and underlined that all of Sankara Nethrlaya’s endeavours at Sri City were for the welfare of the locals. Extending a warm welcome to the dignitaries and participants Dr. K.S.Vasan, MD Sankara Nethralaya emphasized the institution’s strong India centric research, the need for developing Optometry and the objectives of the proposed institution, he had a high word of praise for Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy, CEO, Sri City for providing a large extent of land for the research and clinical care initiative. Dr. Eesh Nigam, Senior Consultant, Sri City Sankara Nethralaya summed up the inception and growth of the unit and its service to the locals, he added with pride that 40% of its patients were treated cost free; it had a zero infection record and was empanelled with the Satish Dhawan Space Research Centre at Sriharikota. This was followed by a touching first person account of an indigent patient who benefited from the cost free care dispensed by the Sri City Sankara Nethralaya and an audio visual presentation of the proposed facility.

Addressing the gathering Shri S.Krishna Kumar, Principal, Elite School of Optometry underlined that the proposed facility would provide the much needed occupational optometry support to the workers from diverse industries located in the zone, he thanked Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy for his noble gesture of providing cost free land, for Sankara Nethralaya’s research initiatives. Shri Krishna Kumar introduced Dr. PP. Santanam the first Principal of the Elite School of Optometry and a great well wisher of the institution gracing the occassion, highlighting his academic achievements, dedication and philanthropy. Professor Santanam described the Bhumi Puja as the first proud step of a child, underlining that 80% of all sensory perception is through vision he proclaimed that Sankara Nethralaya as an institution would do everything needed in this field of vision. Speaking on the occasion Dr SS.Badrinath thanked Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy wholeheartedly, describing him as a man who has kept his word, he also had a word of thanks for Shri Chandrasekhar a great friend and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya who was formerly with L&T for his role in bringing Shri Ravi Reddy close to Sankara Nethralaya, he lauded the role of Dr PP.Santanam and Dr KS.Varadarajan the two stalwarts for their role in the inception of the ESO and Shri Krishna Kumar, Principal of the institute for proving the critical need for developing occupational optometry through research initiatives, he also had a  high word of praise for Shri Suresh Kumar, DGM Projects, Sankara Nethralaya for the speedy completion of the Sri City project. Shri Chandrasekhar commended Dr. SS.Badrinath for his commitment to his ideals adding that Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy and Dr. SS.Badrinath symbolized the physical and social infrastructure of the proposed institution. Acknowledging the thanks note by the senior members of Sankara Nethralaya, Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy underlined that the allocation of land to the institution was not an act of philanthropy but an act to meet the need for eye care in the local region by facilitating world class eye care by Sankara Nethralaya. Delivering the chief guest’s address Shri B.Santhanam, President& MD, Flat Glass, Saint Gobain, South Asia, Egypt and Malaysia highlighted the huge need for research in occupational optometry in the country, he observed that setting up of the institute will help in bridging the gap in this critical area.

Critical reviews and a differing view point mark prestigious endowment lecture at Sankara Nethralaya

The 13th edition of the annual Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment Lecture held recently at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium assumed great significance on account of 3 factors, the August presence of Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri  the founder of the endowment and his wife Dr. Nagamani Beligere Dharmapuri, in whose honour it was created, an interesting curtain raiser on the topic of the evening, titled ‘Nystagmus Decoded’ by Dr. Sumitha Agarkar, Deputy Director, Paediatric Ophthalmology and her team and a thought provoking lecture by Professor Richard W. Hertle, Chief, Paediatric Ophthalmology, Director, Children’s Vision Centre, Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, Ohio, known for his radically different views and revolutionary approach to the subject. The lecture organized by the Paediatric Ophthalmology Department of Sankara Nethralaya and Madras Ophthalmological Association (MOA) opened to a full capacity audience awaiting the guest lecture on a most critical field of ophthalmology.

Extending a warm welcome to the gathering, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology Department, Dr.R.Srikanth, paid glowing tributes to the selfless service rendered to the field of Neo-Natal care in the country by Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri and Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri whom he described as good friends of Dr.SS.Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, he had a high word of praise for the commendable work being done by the Paediatric Ophthalmology department at Sankara Nethralaya. Introducing the distinguished Chief Guest of the evening Dr.S.Geethalakshmi, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr.MGR Medical University, Dr.S.Meenakshi, Senior Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmology Department and Director, Academics, Sankara Nethalaya described her as an academician par excellence, a wonderful guide to young researchers and an inspiring role model.

Speaking on an emotional note Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri expressed that the uniqueness of Sankara Nethralaya never failed to inspire him and his wife, adding that it was not only in terms of medical excellence but an exclusive spiritual quality, thanks to the vibrations of Sankara felt through his ardent disciples Dr. SS.Badrinath and Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath. He gave a brief on what inspired him to establish the endowment and Dr. Nagamani’s critical contributions to the field of pre and post natal care. He highlighted that the objective of the Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment was to disseminate knowledge on paediatric ophthalmology which he felt could be best achieved by supporting an institution like Sankara Nethralaya which does great work in the field. He referred to the Sanskrit quote ‘Vidyartham Maha Dhaanam’ which translates as ‘providing knowledge is the greatest of all charity’ adding that it was his small token of support towards supporting paediatric ophthalmology, the globally renowned paediatrician and philanthropist  closed his talk with a hearty thanks to his friend Dr. SS..Badrinath for ‘Keeping up the glorious tradition’.

Recalling her visit to Dr. Professor Richard W. Hertle’s clinic at Ohio several years ago, Dr. Sumitha Agarkar, described the speaker of the day as a slightly controversial but highly acclaimed doctor and researcher who has done groundbreaking work in the field of Nystagmus, she also highlighted his association with the teaching and training initiatives with a community hospital at Rajahmundry. Speaking on the occasion Dr S.Geethalakshmi, Vice-Chancellor, the Tamil Nadu Dr.MGR Medical University described Sankara Nethralaya as a premium ophthalmic institution; she expressed her deep respects to Dr SS.Badrinath for serving the poor and needy of the State and his service in the field of education. She described Nystagmus and paediatric ophthalmology as the most relevant fields of study to prevent congenital blindness especially in a country with a high prevalence of consanguineous marriages. She expressed that a collaborative study is the need of the hour to prevent neo-natal blindness; she underlined the need for special training in paediatric ophthalmology and encouraged Sankara Nethralaya to go ahead with a new course in the field.

Delivering the endowment lecture on the title ‘How and what we learned from studying Nystagmus in infancy and early childhood’ Dr. Richard W.Hertle expressed that he was humbled by the compassion that he saw all around him. What followed was an interesting exposition of his radically different views, tracing the history of Nystagmus he expressed his surprise on how even ‘Science’ a rational subject found it difficult to break old beliefs, he gave an in-depth account of the subject, touching on the different manifestation of Nystagmus namely pathological and physiological, 11 broad types of the ailment, ambylopia, inflammation etc. He also touched upon Nystagmus in the womb. The veteran doctor cited interesting illustrations and real-time case studies to question generally accepted norms in the subject and present his own interpretations.

The most engaging and informative event came to an end with a vote of thanks by Dr.Akila Ramkumar.

A publisher of repute, a prestigious builder and a group of spirited runners rise to the occasion most gloriously.

At Sankara Nethralaya we are only too aware that our commitment towards eradicating blindness and bringing the light of vision and smile back on the face of the visually impaired, especially the indigent would remain unfulfilled without help from generous and like- minded individuals and institutions. As a service oriented institution nothing is more heartening to us than the gesture of busy enterprises and individuals taking time from their most pressing schedules and compelling business commitments to fulfil an inner calling, to serve humanity. In a shining example of giving without being asked and giving with humility the ‘Prestige Group’ among the nation’s most reputed builders, known for their landmark projects, made a huge contribution in support of Sankara Nethralaya’s cost free eye care initiatives, the donation was made at the request of Shri Irfan Razack the MD of the organization who holds the institution’s service to the poor in high regard and the cheque was handed over to Dr. SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus by Shri Suhail Ahmed, Senior Manager Accounts. The Scientific Publishing Company among the foremost in educational publishing in the country exhibited its concern for the same cause by donating two buses to facilitate the cost free transport of patients, the keys to the brand new vehicles were handed over by Shri Sharad Wasani, CEO of  Scientific Publishing and Shri Selvaganesh, Manager-Accounts to Dr. SS.Badrinath and Dr TS.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya at a simple flagging off ceremony at the main campus of Sankara Nethralaya. The Marina Runnerz a group of young runners gave running a new meaning by organizing a charity marathon of their members and the general public for social causes, while the cost free stall provided at the YMCA, Nandanam, the venue of the curtain raiser provided Sankara Nethralaya employees an opportunity to communicate the institution’s message to the large number of visitors, Senior Consultants Dr. Aditya Varma and Dr. Chetan Rao answered eye care related queries of the attendees at the stall. The proceeds of the run were handed over to Dr SS.Badrinath by Shri Prasanna Kumar Nathella, Shri Soni and Ms Rashmi Gupta the organizers of the charity marathon towards supporting cost free eye care to poor patients.

Sankara Nethralaya pays homage to Saint Sathya Sai Baba

Aradhana of the highly revered and globally adored spiritual leader and humanist par excellence Sathya Sai Baba whose life and message continue to inspire millions of people to lead more purposeful lives through his timeless and universal teachings, was observed at Sankara Nethralaya with fervour and spirit of service by employees, volunteers and devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, amidst chanting of Bhajans and Keerthans on 25th April 2016.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s contribution to the society through his innumerable teachings and welfare measures such as establishing higher educational institutions and universities, health care projects including super specialty hospitals at Puttaparthi, White Field amongst many other places, Pure drinking water projects to over 700 villages in and around Puttaparthi, stand remarkably apart showing the undaunted spirit of the noblest souls that humanity has ever seen.

An Auspicious Prelude to the Inaugural of a State-of the Art Facility

The ‘Temple of the Eye’ rose gloriously to Acharya’s call to serve the visually impaired with a missionary spirit, by stretching its wings of service over the erstwhile Wellingdon hospital premises, paving way for the Sri A. Sivasailam Block, a State of the Art facility, named after one of its oldest supporters and friends, to render tertiary Ophthalmic care to meet the ever increasing demand for the same.

At a ceremonial function, under the auspices of the Junior Pontiff of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal amidst chanting of Vedas, the couple, Dr. Prema Padmanabhan, Director – Special projects and Sri Padmanbhan performed the Ganapathi, Navagraha and Vastu Homams on Thursday, 21st April 2016.

Blessing the employees and participants at the function, the Acharya remarked that the globally recognised institution was doing subtle “Manava Seva” in a dharmic manner and shall continue to do so with dynamism and never dying spirit.  He praised Sankara Nethralaya for its pioneering research, imparting training and education and leading the country with many firsts.

Chief Donors to the Sri A. Sivasailam Block, distinguished Smt Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited and her family took part in the ceremony with great enthusiasm.

The event witnessed honouring of project members including contractors and employees for their valuable contribution.

The eye care pioneer launches a revolutionary new process aimed at perfect vision!

While vision impairments causing partial or total blindness are easily perceptible, minor vision anomalies often go unnoticed and undiagnosed leading to serious issues in the course of time. A typical case of such an anomaly is poor ‘Binocular Vision’ which impedes the capacity of the left and right eyes to co-ordinate in perceiving images and sending co-ordinated messages to the brain; accommodation difficulties and eye movement disorders are other common vision anomalies. Such anomalies manifest themselves in the form of eyestrain, blurred vision, frequent headaches, double vision and tired eyes. As an institution committed to a holistic approach to healthy vision and eye care Sankara Nethralaya looks beyond conventional eye care; initiatives like the ‘Low Vision Clinic’ and the ‘Neuro-Optometry Clinic’ are good examples of this approach. The latest endeavour in this direction is providing its vast domain expertise to Digital Works a software company in the development of TRYe (Train Your eyes) a user friendly, versatile vision therapy software that addresses vision anomalies effectively. The software was formally launched at a simple function held at the Vision Therapy Clinic at the Sankara Nethralaya Main by Dr.SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath, Director Clinical Services, Sri Nathella Sampathu Clinical Laboratory, Sankara Nethralaya. Ms. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen, Incharge – Binocular Vision Clinic and Lecturer at the Elite School of Optometry, extended a warm welcome to the gathering assembled and demonstrated the software, she explained the features and purpose of the software in detail and clarified their queries.

About TRYe

• Train Your Eyes (TRYe) is a new Indigenous Vision Therapy Software Product designed and developed by Digital Works Technologies Private Ltd., using the domain expertise of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.

• Developed on latest technology platforms with the ability to run on PC, Laptops, Mobile & Tablets

• Designed for clinic based and home based vision therapy

What is Unique about TRYe?

1. Has normative reference data specific to Indian patients

2.Tested on a large set of patients

3. Training provided for the eye care practitioners by expert Binocular vision practitioners prior to the delivery of TRYe

4. Simple training modules specific for child and adult

5. Compatible with all installation platforms

6. Very easy to handle by any tech-novice patient

7. Easy follow-up for the practitioner

TRYe- Features

The role of TRYe assumes great relevance as recent global and Indian statistics indicate an alarmingly high prevalence of about 30% of binocular vision anomalies among school children and adults who have highly demanding near visual tasks.  These binocular vision anomalies reflect poor eye muscle co-ordination and cause a lot of visual discomfort ranging from eyestrain, headache and double vision resulting in aversion to near work.

While vision therapy (eye exercises) has proven to be efficacious in improving the eye muscle coordination, conventional vision therapy options are becoming obsolete and monotonous leading to the need for innovative vision therapy solutions. Presently available vision therapy software too have their limitations in terms of lacking in indigenous normative data, not so user friendly interface, difficulties with patient follow-up, lack of technical support besides being expensive.

TRYe overcomes these limitations and provides practitioners and patients a friendly tool that addresses a variety of accommodation and binocular vision dysfunctions. It also has the significant advantage of having diagnostic, therapeutic and follow-up tool, all in one package.

To know more about this exciting vision care software please contact

Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen M.phil Opt, FCOVD-I, FAAO
Incharge Binocular Vision Clinic
Sankara Nethralaya, A Unit of Medical Research Foundation,
Chennai-  600 006, India
Email: rizwana@snmail.org

Station Director of the Madras Atomic Power Station pays glowing tributes to the Mobile Eye Surgical Team

The Sri V.D. Swami auditorium at the Sankara Nethralaya (Main) campus on college road came live to a lot of jubilation, the air was filled with passionate, adulatory observations on the institution’s revolutionary community ophthalmology initiative for creating a good impact at a recent camp, by senior officials of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) Kalpakkam, on the 6th of April 2016. The occasion was the felicitation and honouring of the team operating the ‘Mobile Eye Surgical Unit,’ Sankara Nethralaya’s revolutionary and ‘One of its kind in Asia’ operation theatre on wheels, which had performed a high number of Cataract surgeries, benefiting villagers surrounding the Kalpakkam plant, as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the Power Station.

Welcoming the audience Dr P.S.Rajesh head of the MESU complimented his teammatesfor their wonderful team work and involvement which he described as a shining example of the ‘Sankara Nethralaya Spirit’. Speaking on an emotional note Chief Guest Shri Ravi Satyanarayana the Station Director of facility expressed that the selfless spirit, concern and hard work demonstrated by the MESU team filled him with an unshakeable belief and faith that ‘India will grow and prosper’ with its future in the hands of such spirited and committed young men. He described the MESU camp at Kalpakkam as a service to the ‘Poorest of the poor’. Sharing his views Shri K.Suresh, Superintendent Quality Assurance and Convenor CSR Committee, MAPS underlined that the MESU camp helped in endearing his institution with the local community and enhanced its image as a humane institution going beyond atomic power generation and management of energy. Making his observation that the joy of revived vision was a heavenly experience which cannot be described in words but can only be experienced, he explained that it is this joy that the MESU team has brought into the lives of the poor visually impaired living in the neighbouring villages.

The event witnessed the honouring of every member of the MESU team comprising of camp in-charge, operation theatre staff, maintenance staff, IT support staff, nurses, anaesthetists, Fellows, drivers of the unit and Consultants,  with a plaque by the Chief Guest Shri Ravi Satyanarayana, Station Director, Madras Atomic Power Station.

Introducing the Chief Guest of the day as the very epitome of the saying ‘Simple Living High Thinking’ Dr.KS.Vasan, Managing Director, Sankara Nethralaya described the MAPS as a great example of India’s technological advancement and self reliance.

Thanking the senior officials of the MAPS and the Korean Consul General to Chennai for gracing the occasion Dr. SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, observed that it was most heartening to note that in a fast paced, self seeking world where no one had any time for anyone other than himself, the MAPS and its officials have spent their time and resources in conducting such a noble camp and have showered their love and affection on the MESU team, their partner in service. He had a high word of praise for the members of the MESU team who have stayed away from their families for weeks together and put in hard, sincere work from morning to evening to make the screening/surgical camp a great success. He hoped that the adulation and love and affection showered on the MESU team by the MAPS officials would trigger a positive vibration among all the staff members assembled on the occasion and inculcate a spirit of service and sacrifice in them. The emotionally charged function closed with a spirited Vote of Thanks by Dr.Gajendra Kumar Varma a Consultant serving at the MESU.

Global body dedicated to education and best practices in Contact Lens usage, chooses expert from Sankara Nethralaya to lead its Asia Pacific region.

It is with a sense of great pride and joy that we share that Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, Head of the Contact Lens Centre, Sankara Nethralaya and Assistant Professor, Elite School of Optometry, has been appointed as the ‘Asia Pacific Regional President’ of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE), the global educational organization dedicated to raising the standard of contact lens education worldwide and promote the widespread and safe use of Contact lens. It would be noteworthy to recall here that she was selected as ‘IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens educator of the Year’ and certified as a Fellow of the highly prestigious British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) in year 2014.

A company synonymous with vibrant colours chooses ‘harvesting’ of colourless ‘fluid of life’ to give back to society.

As an institution committed to the conservation and optimum usage of natural resources, Sankara  Nethralaya commissioned ‘Rain Water Harvesting’ systems (RWH) at six locations within its main campus, to effectively capture and store rainwater for future use. The project was sponsored by “Asian Paints” India’s leading manufacturer of paints for decorative and industrial purposes, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and executed by Akash Ganga Trust the well known not for profit and Citizen’s action group.

At a simple function launching the “Rainwater Harvesting systems” held on 30th March 2016, Dr. Shekar Raghavan, Director, Akash Ganga-Rain Centre, expressed that their team was proud to implement the system as part of the CSR activities of Asian Paints. In his address, enumerating the activities of the ‘Rain Centre’ including sensitizing people about the critical need for Rain Water Harvesting in view of the evils of mindless urbanization and conducting surveys on the impact of RWH, Dr. Shekar highlighted that they had implemented similar projects at prestigious NGOs such as the Cancer Institute, Ramakrishna Mutt, Madras Seva Sadan and Theosophical Society to name a few.

In his brief address Mr. Cherry, Manager, Quality Assurance, Asian Paints exclaimed that they felt honoured to be associated with Sankara Nethralaya to achieve their goals of “Water neutrality”.

Thanking Mr. Cherry and Dr. Shekar Raghavan, Lt Col. Raghavan, Advisor-Projects, Sankara Nethralaya observed that the effective recycling of water  already being implemented at Sankara Nethralaya and the launch of a new initiative in this direction, in the form of Rain Water Harvesting, would greatly reduce the quantum of water purchased for the hospital’s consumption, leading to long term, recurring savings for the institution.

Sankara Nethralaya hosts “Inflammatio” an electrifying International Colloquium on Uvea

The premier global colloquium on “Intraocular Inflammatory diseases” started off at a glittering function at the Sri V D Swami Auditorium on 18th March 2016 with a mellifluous rendition of the invocation by Dr Manideepa, Fellow at the Pediatric Opthalmology department.

Organising Secretary, Dr. Mamta Agarwal in her introduction to the conference hailed that the international arena would throw open discussions on challenging cases of Uveitis and promote interaction with other specialities.  Eminent Ophthalmologist Dr. Narsing Rao, Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology, Keck School of Medicine and Director of Uveitis Service, Los Angeles, USA, in his greeting message wished the program a grand success.

Dr. Pramod Bhende, Director, Medical Affairs followed up the ceremonial lighting of the lamp to mark the inaugural of the event with an interesting insight into the genesis of Sankara Nethralaya and its expansion programs on community services.

Senior Uvea Consultant Dr. Sudharshan took the audience through the tour of departmental achievements and activities and hailed glory to their mentor Director Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas.

Dr Amala E George, Senior Uvea Consultant in her introduction to the Guest of Honour Prof James T Rosenbaum, remarked that the institution felt honoured to host Prof Rosenbaum, a graduate from three universities namely Harvard, Stanford and Yale who had over 40 awards to his credit including the International Uveitis Study Group Foundation Gold Medal award American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Clinician Scholar Award and the Alcon Research Institute Scholar award.

Delivering the guest of honour address, Prof James Rosenbaum, the Edward E Rosenbaum Professor of Inflammatory Diseases; Chair, Division of Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases; Professor of Ophthalmology, Medicine and Cell Biology; Head, Uveitis Clinic; Director, Inflammation Research; at the Oregon Health & Science University, discussed the Pitfalls, Progress, promises and challenges in Uveitis care and how technological advances over the last 30 years made tremendous impact on management/ treatment of Uveitis.

Prof Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas, Director, Ocular Pathology and Uveitis services introduced Prof V.Mohan, highly acclaimed Diabetologist and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Ireland and Chief of Dr. Mohan Diabetes Specialities Centre, who in his illustrious career headed several researches that translated to practice management of Diabetes.

Delivering the Presidential address, Prof Dr. Mohan, congratulated Sankara Nethralaya for their India Centric research, he pointed that the way forward was to think ‘out of the box’ and ally with international collaborations for world class research and make research interdisciplinary.

The ensuing three day international conference witnessed in-depth discussions on critical topics including Infectious Uveitis, Auto Inflammation Vs Auto immunity, Sclero-uveitis and its impact, Paediatric  intraocular tuberculosis, Glaucoma in Childhood amongst others.