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Report on Seventeenth Dr E Vaithilingam Memorial scientific session – Feb 24 & 25, 2018

Elite School of Optometry (ESO) has been encouraging optometry research in India for the last few years in many ways. One of the main activities of ESO in this regard is the annual conference on vision science and optometry. Dr. E. Vaithilingam (fondly called Dr. EV) was a pioneer in the field of optometry, who served as the Principal of the Elite School of Optometry from February 1991-March 2001. He was an expert in multiple disciplines – clinical optometry, contact lens and low vision. Dr. E. Vaithilingam was the Head of Low vision services in Sankara Nethralaya and he wrote a book titled “Practice of Low Vision” which helps all the students and practitioners in the field of Low vision till date. He was an ardent researcher and pioneer with more than 100 publications to his credit. He was the first Indian to become a fellow of International Association of Contact Lens Educators (FIACLE) and to be honored as Fellow of American Academy of Optometry (FAAO). In 2002, in memory of Dr. E. Vaithilingam, ESO initiated a national scientific session to encourage optometrists and optometry students from across the country to present their research work. Every year, the quality and quantity of presentations have been increasing exponentially.

This year, ESO conducted the 17th Dr EV Memorial scientific session on the 24th and 25th February, 2018 that received an overwhelming response with participation from twenty optometry academic institutions, seventeen ophthalmic hospitals and 631 eye care practitioners from all over the country. Dr. Mitchell Scheiman, Dean of Research and Director of Graduate studies at Salus University, Pennsylvania was the keynote speaker for the event.

Dr. Mitchell Scheiman who has authored over 200 scientific papers and has served as a chair for the NEI funded clinical trials on Convergence insufficiency is known for his contribution through his book “Clinical management of Binocular vision” that serves as the textbook for Binocular vision across the world. He is a renowned clinician researcher and is a mentor and role model for many in this field. With his enthralling presence, the 2 days of event did receive a humongous response from students and practitioners.

On the 23rd February, the day started with the pre-conference workshop on “Clinical pearls and tips to improve binocular vision diagnosis” conducted by Dr. Mitchell Scheiman at the Jayshree Venkataraman Auditorium, Sivasailam Block , Sankara Nethralaya. With over 100 participants, the workshop inculcated clinical pearls and tips that form the foundation for binocular vision testing and diagnosis. With a simplistic approach to the framework of BV testing, the workshop helped the delegates to take home valuable messages and skills for their clinical practice. The workshop also had a rigorous hands-on training of clinical procedures in BV with 10 facilitators, coordinated by Dr. Mitchell Scheiman & Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen.

The second pre-conference workshop on “Empathetic communication for clinicians” was conducted by Dr Sumathi Narayanan – President, Creative Communication & Management Care and faculty of ESO, moderated by Dr. Rashima Asokan. This workshop is initiated since 2015 and continues to inspire the budding clinicians with Dr. Sumathi’s three decades of expertise in the arena of communication.

The evening symposium on the 24th February, had exciting events that would remain as remarkable milestones in the history of ESO. One such event was the launch of a learning application named as “ECSELO – ESO’s Case Scenario-based learning in Optometry”, lead by Ms. Najiya and Ms. Ashwini, Research associates at Sankara Nethralaya and probably  the youngest editors in the Optometry world. EcSelO is an interactive mobile application that covers the key points to approach 45 common clinical conditions in optometric practice. This application was conceptualized with the help of Mr. Chandramouli –Head of IT Services, Sankara Nethralaya and executed with the support of Chennai publishing services and Prag IT. This application will serve thousands of optometry students and faculty all over the country and will continue to expand with more chapters and learning content.  The second highlight was the launch of a website for color vision deficient individuals and the Dalton’s pseudo-isochromatic plates, a quick screening tool for color vision deficiency. This initiative was led by Mr. Mohan, an alumnus of ESO, mentored by Mr. Maruthachalam Manthiram – Director of Shrusty Global solutions and Dr. Krishna Kumar R – Principal, ESO. These two initiatives did inspire hundreds of young optometrists gathered during the symposium to contribute to the Optometry community in meaningful ways.

Apart from conventional scientific abstracts, to encourage evidence based practice and to motivate the clinicians to build the researcher instinct, the clinician to researcher sessions have been introduced since 2014.  This year, 12 clinician to researcher presentations were shortlisted and 7 of these presentations pertinent to binocular vision were presented during the evening symposium. The evening then continued to move on with the Binocular vision potpourri where three interesting cases were presented by Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen – Head of Binocular vision clinic, Sankara Nethralaya- moderated by Dr. Mitchell Scheiman and Dr. Meenakshi Swanminathan – Director, Academics, Sankara Nethralaya.  The potpourri covered the management aspects of three common clinical case presentations with an evidence based approach moderated by the 2 eminent panel members. The evening on the whole received an overwhelming response and feedback.

The 17th Dr E Vaithilingam memorial scientific session on the 25th February had a poignant start with the divine rendition by Ms. Lohitha Viswanathan, and lighting of Kuthuvilakku by the dignitaries present. Following this, Dr. Krishna Kumar R, Principal, ESO delivered the welcome address on behalf of Dr. Girish Rao, Medical Director and touched upon the highlights of Optometry practice in the institution and welcomed the gathering.  Dr. Rajeswari, Assistant Professor, ESO shared about the progress and history of EV Memorial scientific sessions. The event continued with sharing of fond memories of Dr. E Vaithilingam, by Ms. Gomathy Ravi – Daughter of Dr. EV, Dr. Yadav KK, former colleague of Dr. EV at the Banaras Hindu University and Dr. T.S. Surendran- Vice Chairman, Medical Research Foundation.

The inauguration event was followed by the most awaited part of the day, the keynote lecture by Dr. Mitchell Scheiman. Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen introduced Dr. Scheiman and recalled her acquaintance and able mentorship under Dr. Scheiman. Dr. Scheiman then presented his keynote lecture on “Convergence Insufficiency treatment trial (CITT) – Past, Present and Future”. The keynote lecture covered the review of research done by the CITT study group over the past decade and how the future holds promise for research in this field. Dr. Scheiman’s expertise in this field was very well appreciated and applauded by the delegates. It must have been a lifetime experience for the delegates listening from the horse’s mouth.

Every year, the quality and quantity of presentations have been increasing exponentially. This year, about 114 scientific presentations in various categories of free paper, e-poster, and clinician to researcher sessions were presented. The Go-Green initiative of e-posters did receive a good feedback from all the delegates as it saved the cost of printing, and reduced the need to carry it.

Scientific conferences happen all over the world year after year but the conversion of the conference presentations to publications are meagerly low.  Converting the conference work to publication completes the successful journey and so recognizing this is as well becomes important! At the 17th Dr EV memorial scientific session, 8 optometrists who were successful in this scientific journey were recognized.

As every year, this year witnessed three innovative forums for students and practitioners to showcase their community connect and innovations.

The first was the display of posters by institution to showcase their social accountability. Nine institutions from across the country who were shortlisted proudly presented their community contributions.  All the institution representatives were honored with the Optometrist community vision screening kit, sponsored by Orbis, India. The next was “Share your story”. this was again to showcase the community connect, where the institution’s community responsibility changed the life of a person with visual impairment. Two case stories shortlisted from over 40 entries were awarded during the event. The third event was the display of innovative prototypes applicable for binocular vision diagnosis and vision therapy, by undergraduate Optometry students. Eleven entries were shortlisted and two best innovations were awarded. The award list is as below.

Beginning 2013, the EVM scientific session supports students through travel grants and this year, 21 final year Optometry students from outside Chennai received the ESO- Essilor student travel grant awards. As a token of appreciation to maximum participation by students from SRM University school of Optometry and Sri Ramachandra Medical College Optometry school,  ESO ’s internally illuminated pocket vision screener was given to the heads of the schools,  to be utilized for their community vision programs.

The Scientific Session came to an end with closing remarks by Mr. Jothi Balaji , Senior Manager, Sankara Nethralaya. The event was ably supported by sponsors Mr. Subashish Choudary, Soham eye care and Silverline Contact lens laboratories.  The e-abstract book introduced during 2016 is successfully taken forward this year as well (

ESO and SN look forward to a promising future for Optometry and vision science research in this country and forums like this evidently display the same.

Head of Sankara Nethralaya’s Uvea department occupies centre stage and emerges with flying colours in prestigious topical meet

We take great pleasure and pride in breaking the good news that Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas the head of our Uvea department and a veteran in this specialty of ophthalmology made a distinct mark for himself and Sankara Nethralaya in the 71st All India Ophthalmology Society meet’ the prestigious annual congregation of ophthalmic professionals, held at Coimbatore between the 21st to the 26th of February 2018. The expert’s acknowledged mastery over his specialty and the acclaim he enjoys became apparent by the fact that his subject matter expertise and critical contributions were sought in almost every key activity at the meet

We take pride in sharing a few below

  • He gave an insightful talk titled ‘Uvea X files in Post graduate teaching programme.’
  • He was chosen to play the role of Judge in a novel initiative in academic research titled ‘ Think under the apple tree’
  • He participated actively in a session titled ‘ A case of acute retinal necrous, a Uveitis society of India breakfast course’
  • He delivered a talk on the relevance of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in the diagnosis of Uveitis, titled ‘Uveitis: Search for the Cause’
  • He delivered a talk on ‘Movement from clinic to Lab:Molecular biologic study in the instruction course “ Learning Uveitis from clinical cases’
  • Delivered a talk in ‘clinicopathological  correlation in conjuctival and cornea pathology’. In the instruction course of ophthalmic pathology for clinicians.
  • He was chosen as the Judge for the Post Graduate thesis competition
  • His papers titled 1. Swept source ophthalmologic coherence sonography in serpiginous choroiditis 2. Ocular Bechet’s disease – A report from South India, clinical profile of sarcoid uveitis in a tertiary care centre in South India were extremely well received
  • He was selected to play the role of ‘Chief Instructor’ for the course ‘Uveitis” Search for the cause’

The crowning moment came when Dr Jyotirmay Biswas was honoured as “International Ophthalmic Heroes of India” in a special function held at the event attended by 6000 eye care professionals.

The Sankara Nethralaya family salutes the head of its Uvea department and the acknowledged leader in his subject  for keeping the Sankara Nethralaya flag flying high in a most prestigious meet and wishes him many more accolades in his professional journey.

Sankara Nethralaya’s Contact Lens department conducts a niche workshop extending beyond the realm of conventional contact lens


The contact lens department at Sankara Nethralaya like many other departments in the institution has the pride of being a pioneer and trail blazer in its field, the department is credited with creating a high degree of awareness on Contact Lens usage and best practices, a fact that is underlined by its head Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan being elevated as the Asia Pacific Regional President of the Executive Board of the ‘International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ (IACLE) the highest body governing contact lens usage. As a facility that screens and fits contact lens to a large number of people the department is well aware that there are a good number of people who cannot wear conventional contact lens for multiple reasons like ailments and aberration in the eye that make it unsuitable for the same. These patients need Scleral Contact Lenses a more advanced and customized version of the same. This coupled with the fact that scleral contact lenses not only serve as a vision aid but help in actively treating surgical complications, issues caused due to distorted corneal transplants and chemical burns/injuries which makes it a critical device.

While awareness on contact lens has improved with constant counselling, education and increasing usage, Scleral Contact Lens are still relatively unknown, not only among end users but contact lens practitioners. Scleral contact lenses are filled with liquid saline and hence are very effective in restoring vision, reducing ocular surface reaction and enhancing user comfort. There is a need for special training to fit these lenses as it is quite different from fitting normal contact lenses. While many ophthalmic manufacturers have started producing scleral contact lenses the number of contact lens practitioners with expertise on fitting the same is not enough to meet the demand. Sankara Nethralaya’s contact lens department conducted a workshop titled ‘Getting ready with sclerals’- A customized training on scleral contact lens fitting, on the 16th and 17th of February 2018, to impart knowledge and hands on training and trouble shooting. The workshop conducted by Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, Associate Professor  & HOD, Contact lens clinic and executive optometrists, Rinu Thomas and Asif Iqbal touched upon every aspect of scleral contact lens fitting and was enthusiastically received by the 7 participants from Ms Bausch&Lomb. The session received a high level of praise for its content and the knowledge and expertise exhibited by the trainers.

Flagship of Sankara Nethralaya’s community ophthalmology receives high praise from the State’s ‘First citizen’

The setting for the celebration of a significant milestone of a service meant to serve patients in the deep interiors of the country was most appropriate. The valedictory function of the 50th surgical camp by the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU) was not being held in an auditorium/ hotel in the city but at a simple highway motel on the tiny hamlet of Sappanipatti, on the Krishnagiri – Salem highway in the State of Tamil Nadu. The highway and tiny hamlets after all had become their home away from home for the MESU team and crossing milestones on the road everyday on the way to setting new ‘Milestones’ in vision revival and blindness prevention in remote regions of the country had become their noble quest for the past 6 years. ‘Swami’s Cafe’ the venue of the event, provided pro bono by Shri KM.Swaminathan, friend and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya and a prominent personality of the locality, was milling with jubilant, happy beneficiaries who had got back their vision, right from the morning, they had assembled in large numbers to see and thank the noble souls who had brought the light of vision back into their lives.

Among the earliest to arrive at the venue Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya got the event started on an impromptu note even before it began formally. He engaged in a friendly interaction with the villagers assembled, explaining to them in simple terms the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of MESU, he thanked them for their faith in Sankara Nethralaya which made them turn up in good numbers and for the opportunity to serve them. A man to whom quality was everything, he enquired with concern to the beneficiaries if they were happy with everything about the camp or if there was scope for improvement.

The relevance of MESU in combating rural blindness could be gauged by the fact that none other than the Governor of the State, His Excellency Shri Banwarilal Purohit, was presiding over the function as the chief guest and the district collector, senior bureaucrats from the health ministry, a senior official from the District Blindness Prevention Program (DBCP), a Dean and Head of the Department, from the IIT-Madras and Head Human Resource and Corporate Social Responsibility -  L&T Technology services, were in attendance, at a function being held not in Chennai but in a village 5 hours away by road from the city.

The program started with an introduction of the illustrious Chief Guest of the day with a highlight of his credentials and roles by Dr PS. Rajesh, Senior Consultant, serving at the MESU and proud recipient of the ‘Mayan Award’ for service to society, from the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, for his role in taking eye care to poor patients in remote villages. This was followed by Dr KS.Vasan, Managing Director, declaring that it was a ‘Red letter Day’ for Sankara Nethralaya, he expressed his sincere thanks  and extended a most warm welcome to the  Chief Guest, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri C.Kathiravan, IAS, Collector, Krishnagiri District, Dr K.Ashok Kumar, Joint Director, Medical and Rural Health Services, Dr.P. Priya Raj, Deputy Director, Health Services, Dr S.Manoharan, Project Officer, District Blindness Prevention Society, Dr Jagdish Kumar, Professor &Dean, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Madras, Sankara Nethralaya’s technical partner in developing the MESU, Shri Paneesh Rao, Chief Human Resource Officer and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, L&T Technology Services whic was sponsoring the camp and Shri KM.Swaminathan, educationist, philanthropist and a great friend and supporter of Sankara Nethralaya and proprietor of Swami’s Cafe,  the venue of the function. Dr Vasan had a special word of praise for Shri KM.Swaminathan for his deep commitment to the camp from day one and for extending support and involving himself with dedication and offering his hotel totally cost free for the function and referred to him as the ‘Host’ of the function.  The senior Sankara Nethralaya official followed this with a quick recap of his institution’s inception, growth and achievements, he highlighted its philosophy as laid down by the founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr SS.Badrinath, which governs it to this day and finished his welcome address with sincere thanks to the beneficiaries of the 50th MESU camp who had given Sankara Nethralaya an opportunity to serve them.

Starting the Chief Guest’s address on a highly emotional note that his joy knew no bounds on seeing quality eye care being made available in a remote part of the State, Honourable Governor of the State Shri Banwarilal Purohit went on to highlight how the MESU travelled vast distances, offering uncompromising eye care to landless labourers and other needy people who did not have the financial affordability or access to quality eye care, which he termed as ‘Paropakaram Punyam’ which translates as ‘Helping others is the most meritorious act’ in keeping with the highest Indian tradition. He closed his talk with a high word of praise for Dr SS.Badrinath, the senior state and corporate officials assembled, Sankara Nethralaya and L&T technology services the camp sponsor and expressed his sincere desire to preside over the 100th MESU camp which he hoped would take place soon.

Shri C.Kathiravan, IAS, District collector, Krishnagiri District expressed his gratitude to Sankara Nethralaya  and L&T for the invaluable healthcare services to his district following which Dr V.Jagdish Kumar, Dean & HOD, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Madras  gave an interesting account of how the MESU was the fruit of labour, of specialists from diverse fields motivated at every stage by Dr SS.Badrimath, the driving force behind the project, he expressed that IIT-Madras was proud to be engaged in offering their technical co-operation and an innovative solution bringing quality eye care to the villages of Tamil Nadu and India.

Dr SS.Badrinath the man whose brainchild and passion the MESU is, spoke with natural felicity and great authority and passion on every aspect of the medico-engineering marvel he had envisioned and made a reality, he touched upon its need, relevance, its impact thus far, its functioning, technical details etc. He had a high word of praise for the MESU team, for maintaining a ‘0’ infection rate, which was a great achievement, considering that the MESU operated in the vast outdoors and for the impeccable record of not having a single case of post operative complication in all its 6 years of operation.

A highlight of the event was the spirited expression of their deep gratitude to Sankara Nethralaya, its founder and the MESU team by the beneficiaries of the MESU camp at Krishnagiri which had brought vision and joy to their doorsteps.

The momentous event ended with a Vote of Thanks by Dr. Gajendra Kumar Varma, Consultant serving at the MESU who had been honoured with the ‘Mayan award’ for ‘Service to Society’ by the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry for his long and sincere service to patients living in remote regions of the country.

Rare insights on preventive eye care modalities for children wins high honours for long time crusader against childhood blindness!

A disturbingly high prevalence of visual impairment among children in the country has been a cause of great concern to Sankara Nethralaya, an institution passionately committed to eradicating blindness in the country.  Visual impairment among children is a most cruel handicap as it comes as a stumbling block to education, games and a carefree childhood. ‘Vision’ contributes most to learning and knowledge absorption and most learning happens at childhood, which makes healthy vision most critical to this group. The Elite School of Optometry has been in the forefront of Sankara Nethralaya’s battle against childhood blindness. Finding its pride of place in the ‘Limca Book of  records’ for screening the highest number of children in a day, being chosen as a partner by ORBIS in its in its children eye care initiatives in the rural parts of the country are shining examples of the institution’s expertise in eye screening for children. The institution has over the period developed unique protocols for eye screening of this delicate segment which has added value to its endeavours.

As the coordinator for screening of school children and a person with a deep concern in allaying childhood blindness and sympathy for visually impaired children Srimathi Anuradha . N has been playing a vital role in the above. It was a moment of crowning glory for her deep understanding of the subject and her undying passion to serve this segment most close to her heart when her insightful study titled ‘“Effectiveness of innovative approach in improving spectacle wear and referral compliance in school-students’ vision screening in Chennai: A mixed methods study” aimed at enhancing the quality and outcome of school screening camps in every aspect, was honoured with a doctorate by the SASTRA University.

Srimathi Anuradha’s in-depth study involving parents, children, teachers, social workers and eye care professionals and her hands on experience in school vision screening was evident by the fact that the thesis presented by her highlights an impressive 75 barriers and 45 solutions in spectacle compliance including making available trendy frames and 37 barriers and 31 solutions for referral compliance which includes a deep engagement of parents to address the two major issues that plague successful completion and impact of a school children eye screening camp.

The doctoral work , a critical combination of learning acquired through deep study and long field exposure promises to be a guide and referral to institutions/organizations engaged in vision screening of school children.

The Sankara Nethralaya family conveys its hearty good wishes and congratulates the first recipient of a doctorate for optometry from the SASTRA University and shares the joy of its passionate crusader against childhood blindness, whose findings have found the highest recognition.

A moment of crowning glory and global challenges for Sankara Nethralaya’s head of contact lens department

When winning awards and accolades become a matter of habit and recognition knocks the door at regular intervals, keeping track and giving an account of the same becomes a challenge by itself as the following report would indicate.

We are thrilled to share that the IACLE global member newsletter has just broken the great news that Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan has been elected as a member of the ‘Executive Board’, of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ IACLE, the highest forum of the global body dedicated to education and safe usage of Contact Lens.

It has been a remarkable journey in the field of her passion for Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, the Head of Sankara Nethralaya’s Contact lens department and Assistant Professor at the Elite School of optometry, with milestones embellishing every insightful length of her travel; the 2nd Indian to be awarded a doctorate in optometry and the first to be awarded so in the field of contact lens, she went on to become a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society, was  recognized as the ‘Contact Lens Educator of the Year’ by the International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ (IACLE) which was followed by a Fellowship by the prestigious American Academy of Optometry (AAO). If being chosen as the ‘Asia Pacific Regional President of IACLE’ in year 2016 came as a challenge for taking awareness levels, education and best practices on safe contact lens usage to the next stage, the premium body electing her as a member of the ‘Executive board’ is a strong testimonial to her work as the Asia Pacific Region President and an invite to duplicate it at the global level!

Let us join hands in a thunderous applause for the high level of awareness and understanding on contact lens and its usage that Dr Rajeswari Mahadevan has been creating among users and practitioners and the pride and prestige that she has been steadily bringing to the institution and on herself.

Critical findings on primitive tribal community win high honour for Sankara Nethralaya’s Social Worker

The ‘Social Worker’ plays a key role in any healthcare institution, his contribution in terms of analysing economic, social, cultural and life style factors that contribute to health impairments and the social/economic impact of various health ailments is invaluable to clinicians and researchers. The Social Worker helps in educating and counselling the public at large on the preventive and treatment aspects of diseases and provides useful tips on healthy living. In an ophthalmic institution like Sankara Nehralaya, with a strong societal responsibility, emphasis on research and creating social consciousness the role of the ‘Social Worker’ assumes great importance, he/she acts as a bridge between the target groups in terms of mobilizing and educating volunteers for a research study or those about to undergo comprehensive eye examination in a rural eye camp etc.

Shri G.Venkatesan who serves as a social worker at the ‘ Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology’ at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya, discharges the above functions effectively and often contributes to studies conducted by the department.

We take great pride that and pleasure in sharing that his recent study and findings of the social, health and occupational aspects of a highly secluded and insulated tribal community living in one of the most remote regions of the country has come for great praise and recognition. Shri Venkatesan’s findings on the above titled “Maternal and Child health among Kurumbas of Nilgris District of Tamil Nadu: A Sociological study” was honoured with a ‘Doctorate in Sociology’ by the University of Madras. Shri Venkatesan was guided and assisted in this major study by Dr.M.Thamilarasan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Madras. The Doctorate was conferred on him by Shri KP.Anbalagan, Honourable Minister for Higher Education, Tamil Nadu in the August presence of  Professor P.Duraisamy, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University and  Shri Sunil Paliwal, IAS, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, at the 159th annual Convocation held at the University Centenary Auditorium, Chepauk, Chennai on the 15th of July 2017.

While the doctoral submission is exhaustive and voluminous we take pleasure in sharing some glimpses of the same

  • Illiteracy remains the biggest cause of backwardness in the region
  • Reproductive health issues and anaemia is prevalent among women
  • Skin diseases are wide spread among children
  • Drinking water is found to contain toxic substances in many places

On the positive side it could be said that the tribal community is largely self supporting and self sufficient as they produce all the agricultural and meat produce they consume, living in a totally unpolluted environment, covering long distances on mountainous terrain by foot and physical labour keep them in good health. The level of awareness on maternal and child health was also found to be reasonably good, considering the remoteness of the region and most child births happen at home with the help of the local mid-wife, with only complex cases being referred to the local maternity centre. The work of the state/central governments and NGO’s has resulted in a good number of tribal children attending school and the issue of anaemia is being addressed by dispensing of iron supplement to expectant women.

The ‘Temple of the Eye’ celebrates the ‘spirit of giving’ with great aplomb!

Founder& Chairman Emeritus Sankara Nethralaya, Dr SS.Badrinath shares his thoughts

Founder & Chairman Emeritus Sankara Nethralaya, Dr SS.Badrinath shares his thoughts

There could not be a more momentous occasion to an institution and its Founder ingrained with the quality of gratitude and reciprocity than acknowledging the deeds and honouring the great men and women who have empathized with its cause and made it what it is today.  The Sankara Ratna and Dr MS.Subbulakshmi awarding ceremony being held at the stately Rajendra hall at the ITC Grand Chola on the 27th of Janary 2018 reflected this in no small measure.  The high profile of the awardees and the Chief Guest conferring the awards had quite naturally raised a lot of expectation and made it a most keenly awaited event within and outside the institution. If the smooth flow of the proceedings were a testimony to the excellent planning that had gone behind the event, the spirited observations and spontaneity of the awardees and the Chief guest made it exceed all expectations, keeping the filled to capacity hall absorbed, informed and entertained.

The close to 3 hour program turned out to be an epic of sorts, little wonder that it did so, given thefact that the achievements, name and fame of the man and woman being honoured had assumed epic proportions and the award was being conferred by a legend. Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Director, Administration, Sankara Nethralaya set the tone for the evening with a succinct  note on the awards, as the  gesture of gratitude and  honouring by an institution created for the people and by the people, to the great men and women who had empathised with its cause and supported it in its journey of providing quality eye care to those who could pay and those who could not!

Shri Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC receives the ‘Sankara Ratna’ award from Chief Guest Shri AM.Naik, Group Chairman, L&T

Shri Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC receives the ‘Sankara Ratna’ award from Chief Guest Shri AM.Naik, Group Chairman, L & T

Dr KS.Vasan, Managing Director continued the Sankara Nethralaya  saga where Srimathi Akila Ganesan had left, with a most interesting account of how the institution had grown from its humble
beginnings to a world class, tertiary ophthalmic centre encompassing clinical care, research,teaching and training and community eye care within its fold. He traced the inception of facilities in
the city and other parts of the country, the steady growth of an institution committed to reaching out its services without diluting its quality, principles and philosophy. The senior Sankara
Nethralaya official touched a chord in every heart with his emphatic account of how the Founder and Chief steward of the institution Dr SS.Badrinath was seized by a single idea, dream and mission
and how it controlled his life,brain,muscles as advocated by Swami Vivekananda and how it became a reality in the form of Sankara Nethralaya. Dr.Vasan closed his talk with a strong emphasis on the
social and economic impact of the innovations and service rendered by the institution and a strong appeal to join its mission.

Dr KS.Vasan, Managing Director continued the Sankara Nethralaya  saga where Srimathi Akila Ganesan had left, with a most interesting account of how the institution had grown from its humble beginnings to a world class, tertiary ophthalmic centre encompassing clinical care, research,teaching and training and community eye care within its fold. He traced the inception of facilities in the city and other parts of the country, the steady growth of an institution committed to reaching out its services without diluting its quality, principles and philosophy. The senior Sankara Nethralaya official touched a chord in every heart with his emphatic account of how the Founder and Chief steward of the institution Dr SS.Badrinath was seized by a single idea, dream and mission and how it controlled his life,brain,muscles as advocated by Swami Vivekananda and how it became a reality in the form of Sankara Nethralaya. Dr.Vasan closed his talk with a strong emphasis on the social and economic impact of the innovations and service rendered by the institution and a strong appeal to join its mission.

The awarding ceremony was a spell binder with interesting, inspiring and amazing glimpses of the day’s awardees and the celebrities assembled to honour them flowing as a steady stream. Less known, inspiring, moving facts like Shri AM.Naik the hero of corporate Indian folklore bequeathing 75% of his wealth to charity and how the Naik and Nirali trusts founded by him were revolutionizing the countryside with their trailblazing health and education initiatives. The deep commitment of Shri Deepak Parekh, the voice of corporate India,to the values of humility, accessibility, accountability and transparency and his simple logic and conviction that ‘corporate giving’ was a natural concomitant to ‘corporate earning’. The memorable day when legal legend Nani Palkhivala summoned Shri Deepak Parekh to his home and in a gesture of boundless generosity and faith requested him to divest his life savings in the form of shares and other holdings and transfer the same to Sankara Nethralaya, after just one visit to the ‘Temple of the eye’. The Sankara Ratna awardee’s invaluable role in bringing illustrious members from the nation’s business capital to empathize and support Sankara Nethrlaya, of whom was Dr BR Barwale, the father of India’s seed industry, whose company contributedto the setting up of the clinical care block at the SN main campus named after it as Mahyco block (Maharashtra hybrid seeds company). A touching account of how this key player in India’s green revolution donated the entire prize money he received with the ‘World Food Prize’ to research in agriculture. Srimathi Vani Jairam’s warm note on her experiences with MS Amma after whom the award she was receiving is named, the rich compliments she received for her manner of singing from the immortal, legend. Touching accounts of how the ‘Meera of Modern India’ had toured large parts of rural Maharashtra, propagating social values and causes through her golden voice, travelling all the way to Iowa to render the invocation at the function honouring Dr.Barwale with the ‘World Food prize’ known popularly as Norman Borlaug award.

Shrimathi Vani Jairam being honoured with the ‘Dr MS.Subbulakshmi award’ by Chief Guest Shri AM.Naik

Shrimathi Vani Jairam being honoured with the ‘Dr MS.Subbulakshmi award’ by Chief Guest Shri AM.Naik

The evening marked a giant leap in leveraging technology for better dispensing of eye care by the two times winner of the prestigious NASSCOM-KPMG  awards for ‘Best IT adoption on the healthcare sector’ and ‘Best Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solution’ with the dedication of the Dr BR Barwale centre for ophthalmic technology and innovation, which would focus on developing and implementing technologies to enhance reach and quality of eye care to the masses. Speaking on the occasion Chief Technology Officer Shri Chandramouli explained on how the new centre will endeavour to make the enormous data available with the institution actionable for practitioners and stakeholders.

Speaking with a strong sense of nostalgia a visibly overwhelmed Dr SS.Badrinath recalled that he came to India with just four dollars and times have been indeed been very good and eventful and he considered himself very blessed to have been able to give shape to his dream of starting a world class eye care institution, he expressed that the past has been very good and the present is also very promising and hoped that the future will be good too. He thanked his colleagues for the hospital being rated as the best in its kind and went on to highlight a few major Sankara Nethralaya landmarks like the success of the MESU which reported absolutely no complications, being the only eye care institution providing technology support to 9 eye care institutions, the impact of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) process aided by artificial intelligence developed by the institution. He recounted with gratitude Sankara Ratna awardee Shri Deepak Parekh’s rare gesture of sanctioning a huge loan from the HDFC to Sankara Nethralaya by instructing his officials from the USA, when it was negotiating for the acquisition of the erstwhile lady Willingdon Hospital.

Shri Raju Barwale, Chairman, MAHYCO and sponsor of the Dr Barwale Centre for Technology and Innovation addresses the gathering

Shri Raju Barwale, Chairman, MAHYCO and sponsor of the Dr Barwale Centre for Technology and Innovation addresses the gathering

While it was natural that the evening resonated with the greatness of the great personalities whom the ‘Temple of the eye’ had chosen to honour on this momentous occasion, the inspiring and laudatory references on the host institution, the detailed account of its services and achievements and the need to support it, made by the awardees and the chief guest and the guest of honour made one wonder if even the representatives of Sankara Nethralaya could have made such a strong case about themselves, as its friends and well wishers gathered on the occasion had done. The spirited references to the institution in their acceptance speeches by the awardees and the chief guest’s address made one wonder if SankaraNethralaya was felicitating its friends and supporters or was being felicitated by them on this memorable day!  A glorious example of the Bard’s immortal lines ‘The quality of mercy is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes’.

Senior Sankara Nethralaya Consultants honoured with a globally respected and highly prestigious professional recognition in the world of Medicine

Being conferred with a ‘Fellowship by the Royal College of Surgeons’ is considered as the world’s highest professional qualification for Surgeons the world over, this highly prestigious recognition conferred by the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Ireland, England and Glasgow, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and advancement in surgical practises, through their involvement in education, training, conducting examinations and liaison with medical institutions worldwide. This high recognition is also a prerequisite to practise as a senior surgeon in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

It is with a sense of great pleasure and pride that we share with all of you that Dr L.Vijaya, Distinguished Senior Consultant at the Glaucoma Department and Dr Pukhraj Rishi, Senior Consultant at the Vitreo-Retina department, Sankara Nethralaya have been identified for being honoured with this most coveted Fellowship by the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh). They will be conferred with the title ‘Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh)’ at a future date to be announced by the membership director of the body.

It is a great feather in Sankara Nethralaya’s cap as they join their illustrious predecessors Dr SS.Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dr TS.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya and Dr S.Ramasamy, Professor of Anatomy, Elite School of Optometry, who were honoured with this high recognition.

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearty congratulations and good wishes to the recipients.

World’s leading service organization crowns Sankara Nethralaya doctor with its most prestigious award!

It was a moment of great pride and fulfilment for an institution founded on the principles of compassion, love and service with a smile, when the Lions Club International, the world’s premium service, relief and support organization chose to bestow its highest award on a doctor who has been associated with its ‘cost free community services’ from the day it was started.

Dr.Sheila John, one of its long serving doctors and Head of the Department, Teleophthalmology, Multimedia and e-learning was honoured with a ‘Life Time Achievement award’ by the Lions Clubs International. The award citation richly lauded her meritorious service in the ‘Medical field’ and hailed her as a great person who deserves all accolades and commendations for her meritorious and dedicated services and underlined that the award was being presented in recognition of her remarkable services.

It was an unforgettable X’Mas gift for Dr Sheila John as she walked up to the dais to a round of loud applause from the distinguished audience, to receive the award from Lion G.Ramu, Regional Chairperson, Lions Clubs International district 324 A 6, on the 25th of December 2017, at a glittering ceremony held at ‘Hotel Savera’ Chennai to mark the regional meet of Region-9.

Speaking to the corporate communications department Dr Sheila John strongly underlined that the concept of ‘Cost free community services’ to the indigent visually impaired was the brainchild of the illustrious founder and chairman Emeritus of Sankara Nethralaya, Dr SS.Badrinath, adding that the initiative assumed significance since there were few institutions offering, free eye care as an exclusive service and on such a large scale during those times. She recalled with pride that Outreach camps were started by Sankara Nethralaya at Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts in year 1992 and this year marks 25 glorious years of cost free service to the indigent visually impaired through outreach camps. Fondly reminiscing the renting of a building by the institution for its first community hospital at Pammal , a quiet hamlet close to Pallavaram, located at the periphery of the city in 1997, exactly 20 years ago, she recalled that there was an element of uncertainty in terms of financial sustenance of the initiative, since an operation of such magnitude was something that had not been tried in the past and how divine providence came in the form of generous support by the Lions Club, Tulsi Trust and individual philanthropists which made the initiative a huge success with a large number of patients from the nearby villages being dispensed totally cost free eye care, which encouraged many other eye care institutions to emulate the shining example.

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearty congratulations and best wishes to Dr Sheila John for being bestowed with this rare honour and wishes her many more honours and recognitions.