Sankara Nethralaya USA virtual concert raised $520,000 to restore vision to 8,000 patients

Inspired by a speech by Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt he attended in 1974, Dr. S S Badrinath founded Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai in 1978 with the sole objective of providing world class eye care, free to the poor and affordable price to others. Sankara Nethralaya (SN) is a not-for-profit charity organization providing ophthalmic (eye) care throughout India. For the last four decades, SN has treated millions of patients. SN also holds eye camps, school screenings and eye bank. One of the unique services is Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU), only one of its kind approved by Government of India. These are operation theatres on wheels. MESU consists of two buses serving as operation theatre, go out remote villages, perform cataract surgeries on 150 to 200 patients over a two-week period and return to main campus after post-operative care.

Sankara Nethralaya USA (SN USA), our fund-raising arm in US was established in 1988 with the sole objective of raising funds for Nethralaya to provide free services to indigent patients. SN USA is managed by thirty-five honorary trustees spread across fourteen chapters in US and has been raising over a million dollars during the past several years.

Every year, Sankara Nethralaya USA organizes Indian classical dance and music programs in various cities to raise awareness and funds. Because of the pandemic, this year all programs were conducted through online virtual streaming.

Renowned playback singer and music director, Parthu Nemani along with his music team presented virtual semi classical devotional music program on December 19th, 2021, and it was telecast by the following major channels:

Mana TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUitJfqJTBs

TVAsia Telugu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_2RD-lakO4

Sakshi TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWWlw_FSQS4

TV5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-Yv2I5PXXU

GNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwQBDuJH58E

Great response to the program towards the Sankara Nethralaya USA year-end campaign raised USD $520,000 to restore vision to 8,000 indigent blind patients in India. Kudos to the fundraising team, Philanthropists, and community across the USA for unconditional support.

President Bala Reddy Indurti, President Emeritus S V Acharya, Vice President Moorthy Rekapalli planned, coordinated, and executed the Sankara Nethralaya USA year end campaign with grand success.

Dr. Girish Rao, President of Sankara Nethralaya made passionate appeal to the community for the campaign and explained Sankara Nethralaya service activities. During the program the MESU (Mobile Eye Surgical Unit) operations and the following brand ambassadors’ messages were shown: Former President and Bharat Ratna awardee Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Bharat Ranta Smt M.S. Subbalakshmi, Padma Vihushan Nani Phalkiwala, Padma Vibhushan Ratan Tata, Padma Vibhushan Amitabh Bachchan, Padma Vibhushan Rajnikanth, Padma Shri Sourav Ganguly, DRDO Chairman Dr. Satheesh Reddy, Tollywood actor Madhavan. Sankara Nethralaya Team is very thankful to these ambassadors.

Special thanks to Tollywood writer, actor, and director Tanikella Bharani for his passionate appeal to the campaign.

Thanks to Singer/Music Director Parthu Nemani and his team of Musicians: Prakash (Keyboards), Srinivas (Flute), Suresh Prasad (Tabala), and Srinivasa Reddy (Rhythms). Harmony: Students of Keerrhana Academy (Bhuvana Swaraja Challa, Vaishnavi Kovvuri, Akhil Chandra, Saketh Kommajosyula). Sai Deekshit Vangara (Camera & Lights), Sai Manohar Dubbaka (Recorded & mixed), Srikanth Pudari (Editing), Nagesh (Assistant), Krishna Priya Pothukuchi (Project Supervision), Keerthana Recording Studios (Sound), String Wings (Video Floor)

Thanks are due to Dr. Reddy Urimindi for promoting ‘nayanam pradhaanam’ program through Tori for 100 successful weekends. Thanks are due to Shyam Appali and Prameela Gopu for video editing and MESU video for TV channels. Thanks are due to all Board of Trustees, Volunteers, Philanthropists, and supporters who are working selflessly to restore vision for indigent patients.

Thanks are due to Dr. Raj Modi and Dr. Bellamkonda Kishore for spreading the news in AAPI event and publishing the news in JAAPI magazine.

Thanks are due to Moorthy Rekapalli for MESU (Mobile Eye Surgical Unit) project and the following ADOPT-A-Village donors Dr. Sanjeeva Reddy (New Orleans LA), Leela Krishnamoorthy (Houston TX), Anand Dasari (Dallas TX), Srini Vangimalla (Atlanta GA), Rajasekhar Aila (Detroit MI), Srinivas Ganagoni (New Jersey NJ), Suresh Vemulamada (Atlanta GA).

Thanks are due to Jagannath Vedula, and Chennai staff Theagarajan, Suresh Kumar, Sunitha Doss, Kavitha, and Dheenadayalan.

Fundraising team members: Bala Reddy Indurti, SV Acharya, Moorthy Rekapalli, Leela Krishnamoorthy, Dr. Raj Modi, Srini Vangimalla, Upendra Rachupally, Shankar Setty, Shyam Appali, Prasad Rani, Meher Lanka, Narayan Indurthi, Ramesh Chaparala, Sowmi Narayan, Neelima Gaddamanugu, and Banu Ramkrishnan.

As you already know during our mid-year campaign, we conducted Flute Nagaraju Talluri program and received $150,000 donation from Dr. Govinda Visvesvara to name a floor in Chennai Hospital. This is not included in year-end campaign

Thanks are due to media partners TVAsia (Srinivas Ganagoni) manaTV, TV5 (Sridhar Chillara, Ragini, and Harishi), Sakshi TV (Simhabaludu), GNN (Rammohan Reddy and Ravi Reddy Maraka) for promoting Sankara Nethralaya virtual streaming concert on Dec 19th at different timings to give the flexibility to all viewers in different time zones.

Sankara Nethralaya professionals were awarded with numerous awards for their outstanding accomplishments. Our founder Dr. S S Badrinath was given the prestigious awards of Living Legend and Padma Bhushan for his outstanding public service. Newsweek named Sankara Nethralaya as one of the four Best Ophthalmic institutions and one of the Best one hundred hospitals in the World. SN USA, our fund-raising arm in US was given the given the highest rating of four stars by prestigious rating organization Charity Navigator.

Please extend your support for this noble cause of restoring the vision of indigent patients by generously contributing at https://www.sankaranethralayausa.org/

To read the article on Great Andhra.com, please click here:- https://www.greatandhra.com/articles/special-articles/sankara-nethralaya-usa-virtual-concert-raised-520000-118013

Sankara Nethralaya Congratulates Dr. Sheila John on her Doctoral Degree

Sankara Nethralaya family congratulates Dr. Sheila John on receiving her doctoral degree from the Faculty of Surgery and Surgical Specialties, The Tamilnadu Dr. M. G. R. Medical University on 20th December 2021.  She successfully defended her doctoral thesis titled “To Compare the Accuracy of Computer-aided Grading for Presence or Absence of Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 2 Diabetes Patients in a Telescreening Program.”  Her aim was designed to provide inputs on the suitability of a computer-assisted DR screening solution on Type 2 diabetes patients, for use in a larger prospective study.

Dr. Sheila John was awarded her Ph.D during the convocation attended by Thiru M. K. Stalin, honourable Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and Shri R. N. Ravi, honourable 15th Governor of Tamil Nadu.

Mobile teleophthalmology camps were conducted in Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts, Tamil Nadu, India, from January 2015 to May 2017 and around 472 diabetic patients underwent teleconsultations at Sankara Nethralaya, Nungambakkam (main campus).  Around 1200 retinal photographs from Type 2 diabetes patients at diabetic clinics in Chennai were also imaged through tele-screening for the data analysis.

SN congratulates Dr. Deepmala Mazumdar for successful completion of her doctoral degree

The entire family of SN congratulates Dr. Deepmala Mazumdar for successfully completing her doctoral degree by carrying out scientific research with Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, India in collaboration with Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Her Ph.D. research is titled the ‘Visual Field responsiveness in glaucoma: An eye-tracking approach’ and was carried out under the guidance of Dr. Ronnie George (Director, Glaucoma Services), Prof Hans van der Steen, and Dr. Johan Pel (Dept. of Neuroscience, Erasmus MC). Her thesis proposed Eye Movement Perimetry as a potential tool for identifying visual field defects based on reflexive eye movement responses and recommended this technique as an additional/alternative technique of perimetry especially in those patients who face difficulties in reliably performing the conventional method.

The doctoral ceremony was a hybrid one (a combination of real and virtual events) due to COVID-related regulations and restrictions. The ceremony included a rector (moderator), three of her Ph.D. promoters, six honorable opponents from various subspecialties under the wing of vision science, and one paranymph (ceremonial assistant).

The public audience had a full video of the event series via youtube streaming. After the defense presentation and viva, the candidate was officially declared as a ‘Doctor’ and was awarded a university certificate and the prestigious Erasmus MC badge. The ceremony came to a conclusion with the commendation speech by Dr. Johan Pel.

Sankara Nethralaya serves the unorganized sector through Occupational Optometry

Sankara Nethralaya’s Department of Occupational Optometry Services conducted a focused continuous comprehensive services for the laborers in the unorganized sector.  Sunday camps also were held monthly once between July to November 2021 at the main hospital, with the invaluable support of Computer Ages Management Services (CAMS) as a part of their CSR activity.

This camp included a Visual Task Analysis Based eye examination for sculptors, hair dressers, fishermen, agricultural workers, and toy-making artisans crossing the borders of Tamil Nadu.  Around 896 workers benefited by these camps and around 686 individuals were dispensed with new glasses including safety eye wear & about 162 were referred for further specialty cross consultations.  Cataract surgery for about 28 patients were funded by CAMS and followed-up by OOS.

We thank all our supporters such as CAMS for collaborating in the fight  against preventable blindness and bringing quality eye care to the deserving patients of our nation.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan Performs Virtual Charity Fundraising Concert

Sankara Nethralaya USA hosted a concert by National Award Winner Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan in the fight against preventable blindness.  Each year, Sankara Nethralaya USA hosts numerous fundraising concerts to raise awareness and funds for the deserving patients.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan (born 2004) is an Indian playback singer.  In 2015, she won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer at the 62nd National Film Awards at the age of 10, becoming its youngest recipient.  She received the award for her soulful interpretation of the song “Azhage” (Beautiful) from the 2014 Tamil film Saivam, directed by A. L. Vijay.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan started her virtual performance by offering an invocation to Lord Ganapathi composed by Lord Agathiyar in Tamil sung in Thilang ragam and Adi talam.  Shri P. Unnikrishnan introduced the virtual event and invited all the viewers to enjoy the virtual performance organized by SN USA.

Then Kumari Uthara sang the Telugu song, “Pibare Rama Rasam” composed by Sadasiva Brahmendra rendered beautifully in raga Ahir Bhairav in Adi talam.  She then rendered the Sanskrit song, Maadhava Maam Deva, a Krishna Kirthi in Sanksrit composed by Narayana Theerthar in Neelabari ragam and Adi talam. Her second song was the popular film song Maadu Meikkum Kanne in Tamil composed by Oothukkadu Venkat Subbaiyar.

The young prodigy sang a total of 7 Telugu and 2 Kannada devotional classical songs by various composers proving her versatility.

The closing speech was given by Shri Moorthy Rekapalli, Vice President, Sankara Nethralaya USA.  He thanked everyone for watching and supporting the cause.  He thanked the vocalist, Sri Uthara Unnikrishnan and the accompanying musicians for their flawless performances.  He also thanked Sri Shyam Appali, Board of Trustees, for taking care of all the technical aspects.

The virtual event raised a significant amount.  Thanks are due to media partners SakshiTV, manaTV, TVAsia, TV5, GNN, and US1 for promoting Sankara Nethralaya activities.

Sankara Nethralaya celebrates World Diabetes Day

SN celebrates World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14th 

This year we conducted a camp for people with diabetes who were hospitalized for COVID 19 infection.  The theme of WDD this year was to improve the access of care to people with diabetes.

There is evidence that patients with diabetes who additionally were hospitalised for Covid showed higher progression in diabetic retinopathy.  This could be due to many reasons such as ischemia experienced in Covid or due to lack of access to eye care during lockdown and fear of stepping out to get eye care assessment done.  Close to 600 patients were called on 14th November 2021 to the main branch for assessment.  This was done over 2 weeks with the help of the Communication department and Diabetic retinopathy team who called eligible patients and gave appointments.

A battery of tests that included ocular and Covid history, vision assessment, ocular biomicroscopy and applanation tonometry.  Following this the patients were dilated with mydriatic drop, fundus photograph was taken, their HbA1c was assessed with one prick test.  Dilated fundus evaluation was planned to be done by an ophthalmologist.

Based on the diagnosis, the patients were given counselling and advice by dietician on controlling blood sugar levels.  Additionally, this year special yoga which included breath control and simple yoga exercises were included.

Unfortunately, due to heavy rainfall and water lodging in many areas of Chennai, many elderly patients could not report on the specified date.  Of the patients who reported, 68% patients had no diabetic retinopathy, 24% had diabetic retinopathy but showed no progression and 16% of patients who had progression were referred for additional investigations and treatment.

Besides this initiative, Dr Rajiv Raman wrote an article in “Hindu” a leading newspaper in Tamilnadu explaining Frequently Asked Questions on Diabetic retinopathy.

In addition, an article with input of Dr RRN on Diabetic Retinopathy written by Mr A P Irungovel,  Manager- Medical Sociology was published in the Famous Tamil Weekly Kalki.

Infection Control Awareness Program at SN Kolkata

Infection Prevention and Control is one of the most important issues in the health care setting at present.  To spread awareness about this important issue, a novel Infection Control Awareness Program (ICAP) was conducted at the Sankara Nethralaya Kolkata centers of SNK, Mukundpur and Rajarhat from 8th to 13th November 2021.

ICAP consisted of interesting talks on different topics like Hand hygiene, Prevention of Needle stick injury, Use of PPE, Biomedical waste Management and Hospital disinfection and cleaning, along with demonstrations and online quiz, which was an extraordinary success.

The huge participation by the hospital employees in the Q & A sessions, quiz, poster and slogan competitions made the program more so exciting.

We thank everyone involved for their invaluable contributions to the success of this ICAP 2021 at SNK.

Sankara Nethralaya’s Newark Delaware Chapter is a grand success.

For 2 weekends in September, the Sankara Nethralaya name resonated across the Delaware Indian population. Sankara Nethralaya Trustees Piram Manickavasagam and Ravi Maraka worked hand in hand with Smt. Indhumadhi Gopalakrishnan, artistic director of Salangai School of Performing arts and hosted this grand kickoff event for Sankara Nethralaya Delaware Chapter.

It was a unique and bold move by Salangai School of Performing arts to have their annual event as a virtual event. 75 performers participated in this event which had a reach of more than 3000 people on Facebook and helped to raise significant donations.

Sankara Nethralaya President Emeritus S.V Acharya addressed the audience before the Bharathanatyam program and noted about Sankara Nethralaya fundraiser events, how they leveraged mobile eye surgical units and thanked Salangai School of Performing arts students and Guru. He thanked Indhumadhi Gopalakrishnan for hosting the event for a noble cause.

Right after the address magic behind the classical art form began to unfold one after the other. It was a treat to watch the kids in traditional Indian classical dance costumes perform for vibrant and beautiful choreography. It is also noteworthy to mention some of the performers were first timers and they have been learning the dance only through virtual sessions and with just a couple of in person practice sessions the kids were able to perform in this grand event.

Senior students Adithi Jonnagadla, Praharshitha Nagraj, Pooja Guduguntala and Sreenidhi Das gave a solo performance. Priya Jeyakumar, past student of Salangai School who completed her arrangetram in 2019 also gave a solo performance in this event. Their passion, hard work and discipline in learning the classical dance for several years showed up in their performances.

Final day of performance included a dance presentation on Lord Krishna by Guru Indhumadhi Gopalakrishnan and her son and disciple Akshath Piram and Yashwath Piram. This section had 4 songs in three different languages – Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.

First performance of this section stole most people’s hearts in which a 3 year old boy (little Krishna) entered the scene dancing along with his mom with cute moves and mischievous smile. Next performance was for a song Aadithano Ranga which aptly captured the episode of clash between Serpent King Kalinga and Lord Krishna followed by a Varnam depicting Krishna and Sudama friendship and Gajendra Moksham tales. ‘Varnam’ is considered a difficult piece in Bharathanatyam and Akshath Piram performing a Varnam at 10 year old with at most perfection received raving reviews.

Final performance of the event was a riveting dance performance by mother son duo – Guru Indhumadhi Gopalakrishnan and her son Akshath Piram for a Mahabaratha Sabdam. Mahabaratha Sabdam portrayed one of the most iconic scenes, in which Yudhishthira rolls away his possessions, his kingdom, his brothers, and even his own freedom, though Krishna’s protection saves his wife from total humiliation. This is the most intense scene in Mahabaratham and to do justice to this scene is a challenging task. But the duo completely transformed themselves into their characters and gave a powerful performance that sure did touch viewer’s emotions and won their hearts.

The event concluded with a Thank you note in which Salangai School director thanked all participants and their parents, Guru’s Legend Mudurai R Muralidharan, Guru Dr. Ratheesh Babu and Guru Smt. Supriya Ravikumar and all friends and families who supported the event.

President Bala Reddy Indurti, Vice President Moorthy Rekapalli, Secretary Srinivas Ganagoni thanked all the Trustees and Volunteers who are working selflessly to restore vision for indigent patients.

Bala Indurti worked with local trustees Piram Manickavasagam and Ravi Maraka to launch the Newark Delaware Chapter. Thanks are due to Board of Trustees Shankar Setty and Dr. Raj Modi from nearby states for their unconditional support. Thanks are due to Board of Trustee Shyam Appali, Theagarajan for making video and flyers to the event.

Thanks are due to media partners SakshiTV, manaTV, TVAsia, TV5, GNN, US1, and Tori for promoting Sankara Nethralaya activities.

During the pandemic we have conducted the following virtual events to bring the awareness and help the indigent blind patients.

  • Nataraja Natyanjali’s 100 days of kuchipudi dance programs
  • A Jagannathan Memorial Series of concerts for one year
  • Satadina Swararchana semi classical music programs
  • Jay Kannan concert
  • Natyothsava

Sankara Nethralaya is one of the 4 best ophthalmic institutions and one of the 100 best hospitals in the World per Newsweek. Sankara Nethralaya OM (Ophthalmic Mission) Trust is based in USA and has received the highest rating of four stars by charity navigator for maintaining the transparency for funds donated by donors and how they are utilized towards a noble cause.

To read the article on Great Andhra.com, please click here:- https://www.greatandhra.com/articles/special-articles/sankara-nethralayas-delaware-chapter-is-a-grand-success-116697

Sankara Nethralaya Microsoft Give Poker Tournament

Sankara Nethralaya USA is a not-for-profit charity organization providing ophthalmic (eye) care throughout India. For the last 4 decades, SN has treated millions of indigent blind patients.

During the month of October, Microsoft organizes the Give campaign. In this month, Microsoft encourages its employees to contribute to various causes and supports thousands of non-profit organizations across the globe. Microsoft matches 100% of the employees’ contribution and volunteer hours during this month to promote philanthropy across the organization.

Sankara Nethralaya USA Seattle Team Vishwanadha Goli, Praveen Vuppuluri, and Soma Jagadeesh came together to raise funds through a poker Tournament. With Microsoft matching and volunteer hours, this event generated $31K which will sponsor 500 cataract surgeries for indigent patients.

Every year Sankara Nethralaya is conducting one Poker Tournament with Microsoft Give program in October. This year under the leadership of Board of Trustee Soma Jagadeesh Seattle team organized 2 poker tournaments.

President Bala Reddy Indurti, President Emeritus SV Acharya, and Vice President Moorthy Rekapalli thanked all the Trustees and Volunteers who are working selflessly to restore vision for indigent patients.

Sankara Nethralaya USA wants to take this opportunity to thank Microsoft and all the individuals who came together to make this a great success. We have conducted the games in 2 different days during month of October to contribute for the noble cause as per the feedback and response from last year participants this year we have 102 players supported this cause. Special thanks to top donor Khushboo Chandrachud, winners of the tournament are Zhenghong, Gargee Sharma, Scott Seiber, Khushboo Chandrachud and Brian Conley.

We have rewarded top donor and winners with encouraging electronic products for their contribution and support to noble cause. We will continue working towards the growth of volunteer organization by including more volunteers in coming future with more programs to evangelize about Sankara Nethralaya Activities.

Thanks are due to media partners SakshiTV, manaTV, TVAsia, TV5, GNN, US1, and Tori for promoting Sankara Nethralaya activities.

During the pandemic we have conducted the following virtual events to bring the awareness and help the indigent blind patients.

  • Nataraja Natyanjali’s 100 days of kuchipudi dance programs
  • A Jagannathan Memorial Series of concerts for one year
  • Satadina Swararchana semi classical music programs
  • Jay Kannan concert
  • Natyothsava

Please watch Child prodigy Ms Uthara Unnikrishnan virtual program in your favorite TV channels, and social media, and https://www.sankaranethralayausa.org on October 24th.

Sankara Nethralaya is one of the 4 best ophthalmic institutions and one of the 100 best hospitals in the World per Newsweek. Sankara Nethralaya OM (Ophthalmic Mission) Trust is based in USA and has received the highest rating of four stars by charity navigator for maintaining the transparency for funds donated by donors and how they are utilized towards a noble cause.

Please extend your support for this noble cause of eradicating preventable blindness by contributing at https://www.sankaranethralayausa.org

To read the article on Great Andhra.com, please click here:- https://www.greatandhra.com/articles/special-articles/sankara-nethralaya-microsoft-give-poker-tournament-116609

Sankara Nethralaya’s Optometrists Achieve Fellowship during the American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting in Boston, MA

Dr Viswanathan Sivaraman, Ms. Aparna G, Ms. Azfira Hussain, Ms. Ayisha Atiya and Mr. Soumen Sadhu became Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) during Academy 2021 Boston, November 3-6, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. They joined a near record-breaking number of 299 new Fellows welcomed into the Academy this year.

Professionals who become Fellows of the Academy must complete a rigorous candidacy process. Candidates submit extensive written work and must also pass an oral examination. A panel of leading optometrists and vision scientists must approve both the written work and oral examination. Approximately ten percent of practicing optometrists are Fellows of the Academy. Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry constantly strive for the highest professional standards.

The American Academy of Optometry annual meetings are recognized as presenting the latest in research and information on patient and vision care.Highlights of the Academy annual meeting included more than 300 hours of continuing education (CE) courses, scientific presentations and an exhibit hall with more than 100 companies exhibiting. More than 6,500 optometrists, vision care professionals, vision scientists and optometry students from around the world attended this prestigious meeting.

About the American Academy of Optometry

The American Academy of Optometry (Academy) enhances excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through its journal, Optometry and Vision Science, and the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. Fellows of the Academy are committed to the premise that learning is a lifelong obligation of a professional, as is the commitment to expand the profession’s knowledge base through ongoing fellowship and exchange.

The next annual meeting of the Academy will be held October 26-29, 2022in San Diego, California. For more information, visit the website: http://www.aaopt.org