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Report on VIBS – Hands-on Summer Training programme (14th May – 1st June 2018)

The Hands-on-summer training programme is a scheduled annual training programme conducted under Vidyasagar Institute of Bio-Medical Science (VIBS) a Unit of Medical Research Foundation, with an objective of imparting real time knowledge and experience in Basic medical sciences including  application of advanced  techniques  in the field of  Medical Biochemistry,  Microbiology  and Human genetics to post graduate students from Science and Arts college /Research Institutions/Engineering colleges. The programme was conducted between 14th May and 1st June 2018   with the inaugural function conducted by Dr.H.N.Madhavan, Director of VIBS, alongwith Dr.N.Angayarkanni, HOD, Biochemistry  on 14th May 2018.

A total of 17 candidates (3 each from  Stella Maris College, Loyola College,1 each from Madras Christian College, Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Saveetha Medical College and hospital, SRM Arts and Science College, &VMU-Aarupadaiveedu Institute of Technology in Chennai, one each from  SASTRA University, Thanjavur, Pondicherry  Central University, Pondicherry, Periyar University, Salem, Mahatma Gandhi Degree College, University of Bradford (MDIS), Singapore  and 2 from Andhra Pradesh  underwent hands on  training programme in advanced techniques in the 3 departments of Basic Medical Sciences (7 candidates in  R.S. Mehta Jain Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 4 in SN ONGC Genetics & Molecular Biology and 6 in   L & T Microbiology Research Centre).

The valedictory function was conducted on the last day of the training programme   on 1st June 2018. Dr.S.S.Badrinath Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya was the chief guest  for the programme. The programme started with a prayer song by Dr.S.R.Bharathi Devi and  presentation of VIBS activities by  Dr.K. Lily Therese, VIBS – Co-ordinator. The participants gave a good feedback on the programme and faculty from each department also shared their experience of conducting the hands on summer training programme, by appreciating the student’s interest and enthusiasm in learning the techniques which reflected in their good performance in the evaluation conducted at the end of the programme.  The participants were requested to share the acquired knowledge and impart the skills to their juniors and colleagues in their respective colleges.

Chairman Emeritus Dr.S.S.Badrinath alongwith the respective faculty from each participating department distributed the certificates to all the participants and the programme came to an end with high tea and a group photograph. We take this opportunity to gratefully acknowledge the support of the managements of Vision Research Foundation & Medical Research Foundation for providing the facility and the Founder of VIBS, Padmashri Iravatham Mahadevan, I.A.S. for providing the wonderful opportunity to share the acquired knowledge and skills with Post graduate students from various Science & Arts Colleges & Research Institutions, which is one of the major objective of this great Institution!!.

The ‘Temple of the eye’ takes a giant step in its journey of ‘Service to Mankind’

The 23rd of April 2018 was a ‘Red Letter Day’ for an institution that came into existence with one simple objective ‘Serving mankind and alleviating suffering of the masses through quality eye care’ it was the day the institution made an auspicious and blessed step towards fulfilling a long time dream, a most cherished dream and also a very ambitious dream. The institution started on the principle of serving eye care totally cost free and with a personal touch to poor patients, had over the 4 decades of its service reached a position of pride wherein it treated  50% of its out patients and performed 35% of its surgeries totally cost free, its cost free eye care initiatives had also recorded magnificent outreach, with quality eye care being dispensed to poor patients in inaccessible, remote regions like the deep interiors of the Sunderbans in West Bengal, Vellimalai Hills in Tamil Nadu and more recently in the tribal regions of Singhbum in the State of Jharkand. Building and operating a large, well equipped and easily accessible community hospital, dedicated exclusively to cost free treatment to indigent patients remained a collective dream of the institution. The idea was to have a State of the Art facility which would cater to a large number of walk-in patients, serve as a referral base hospital to patients screened at the outdoor camps, where they could be brought provided boarding, lodging and free treatment, a place where the institution’s community outreach vehicle including the MESU (MOBILE EYE SURGICAL UNIT) could be parked between their trips.

The biggest and first challenge in starting such a large facility, the availability of a large tract of land, in an accessible part of the city was solved when in a most generous and thoughtful gesture Mrs Kausalya Appukutty, Volunteer- Sankara Nethralaya Auxiliary Services (SWAN) made available the same totally cost free at the Dr VG. Appukutty Campus, named in honour of her late husband and generous supporter of Sankara Nethralaya, from where the CU Shah Sankara Nethralaya and the Elite School of Optometry function. The Bhumi puja for the facility was held with traditional piety with the chanting of mantras, vedic hymns and Homam at the proposed site, in the presence of a large number of friends, well wishers and employees. Srimathi Anuradha Narayan, lecturer at the ESO extended a warm welcome to the attendees and expressed the institution’s deep gratitude to Ms Voltas, Ms Infosys, Ms Trent Ltd, the Rahm Sitaraman family, USA and long time friend and supporter Shri Iravatham Mahadevan for their generous donation which would serve as the critical ‘Seed’ capital for the new initiative. Speaking on the occasion Col Raghavan, Director-Projects and chief architect of the  initiative observed that the institution was able to embark on a ‘not for profit’ facility with such a high capital outlay only because corporate  houses and individual donors open their purses generously when Dr SS.Badrinath the institution’s founder makes an appeal for support.

In a moment that captured the spirit of the day, special guest of the event Shri Iravatham Mahadevan expressed that if only he had been 10 years younger he would have visited every home in the locality to mobilize funds for the noble endeavour, the fact that the octogenarian had already made an appeal to the families in his apartment complex became apparent when a co-resident from the complex expressed that every family in the complex would donate towards this noble cause. This was followed by presenting of donation cheques by Srimathi Surekha Mehta, on behalf of SWAN and by Mr Sanjay who operates the staff canteen at the VG Appukutty campus.

Greeting the gathering on the occasion well known Litterateur and Editor of popular Tamil magazine ‘Amudhasurabhi’ Shri Thirupur Krishnan, a friend and well wisher recalled the glorious days when he served under Shri Iravatham Mahadevan, a highly principled civil servant, he observed that as a hospital which would be serving the masses it would only be appropriate that it is funded by donations from the common man, he drew a parallel of the same by narrating how Swami Vivekaanda wanted his trip to the World Congress of Religions in Chicago, to be funded by small donations from the common man and not by a few wealthy donors, as he was representing the entire nation.

Speakng on the occasion Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Founder, Sankara Nethralaya expressed his thanks to all who had assembled and the team working on the project, he had a special word of thanks to Srimathi Kausalya Appukutty, member SWAN for making available the land, without which the project could not have been envisaged. He welcomed and expressed his thanks to special guests Shri Iravatham Mahadevan and Brigadier VS.Joon, Station Commander and President Cantonment Board, for his critical role in obtaining the necessary sanctions and permits for the proposed building, from the Army authorities.

Students from the ESO rise magnificently to a knowledge exposition challenge of global proportions!

Future Ocular Research Creativity Event

FORCE (Future Ocular Research Creativity Event)was a competition that had every element that goes to make a high profile knowledge evaluation exercise, the sponsor was among the biggest names in contact lens and visual aids and it was a national competition which would propel the winner into the highly charged world of European optometry. Students of the Elite School of Optometry known for their capacity to pull up their socks in short notice and prove their mettle, rose admirably to the occasion, reiterating beyond all doubt that they are indeed a ‘Force’ to reckon with in their field!

We take pleasure in sharing a spirited,step by step, first person account of the competition and how Jude Remedios Menezes the star performer from the ESO made his way to the European Finals at Budapest, Hungary.

The National round of the cooper vision force presentation was held on 2th of March, 2018 at the Orchid Hotel in Mumbai. A team of 5 Members, namely, Akshara, P Gaurav, PoojaNandagopal, VivekSuganthan R and Jude R Menezes represented the Elite School of Optometry at this prestigious, First of its Kind National Contest. This team was accompanied by its mentor and guide, Dr Rajeshwari M – The contact Lens stalwart faculty from ESO.

This Contest required from the participating students, a presentation of a Research Study, Case Report or a Review article to be judged by a team of three well renowned clinicians in the field.

In the preparatory stages, Dr JameelRizwana, Dr Viswanathan, Ms Rinu Thomas and Mr Asif Iqbal played a significant role in addition to the core Guidance from Dr Rajeswari in mentoring of the participating students who worked hard to streamline their presentation slides and skills within the time constraints that this contest had demanded.

After a week of intense study and practice the team was flown to Mumbai in the early hours of the day of the presentation and delivered their best.

Gaurav presented his research results on the “Impact of introducing Comfilcon A spherical soft contact lens at a tertiary eye care centre- A retrospective Review( 2015-2018)”, Akshara presented a Case Series on “ comparison of subjects with RGP and soft torric contact lenses”, Vivek and Pooja teamed up to present a review on “Toric Soft Lens Stabilization: Is it Stabalized? ” and finally Jude presented  a review on the “Success of the soft contact lens market: How new techniques, Tests and Instruments can help?”.

The results couldn’t have been more in consistence with the quality of the presentation, with the Elite School stealing bragging rights with the best presentations of the Day.

Jude’s Presentation made him the country winner and won him a ticket to Budapest, Hungary to compete for the title ‘European FORCE winner- 2018’ at the International Cooper vision Future Ocular Research Creativity Event(FORCE).

All in all, right from the very start, the trip proved to be a memorable experience for the students and provided them with a rare exposure to presentation at a professional level, boosting their self-confidence and enhancing their exposure to the soft contact lens industry.

The students and their mentors take this opportunity to thank the management of SankaraNethralaya for this rare opportunity of participating in a high level competition and for their constant encouragement and support

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its hearties congratulations to the ESO team consisting of the participating students and their mentors for keeping the SN flag flying high and conveys its very best wishes to Jude Remedios Menezes in his single minded pursuit towards winning the  ‘European Force winner – 2018’

An eye care institution preferred by the world is acknowledged for its universal appeal across boundaries and service

Sankara Nethralaya has been a preferred eye care destination to patients not only from different parts of India but from all over the world, right since its early days. It has an exclusive ‘overseas patients’ department serving a steady flow of patients from the world over. We take great pleasure in sharing that Sankara Nethralaya has been adjudged as the ‘Best Medical Tourism Hospital’ in the ‘Tamil Nadu Tourism Awards 2018′. The award was presented on the 14th of March 2018 at a function organized jointly by Ms Madura Travels and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, at Kamarajar Arangam. The award was presented by Singing Legend, Padmabhushan Srimathi P.Susheela and well known Industrialist and philanthropist, Chevalier, Kalaimamani Shri VG. Santhosham and received on behalf of Sankara Nethralaya by Srimathi Nirmala Kurien, General Manager, Human Resource Department.

Nation’s premier newspaper confers high honours on Sankara Nethralaya and its founder

The Hindu Group Publishing Pvt Ltd, among the nation’s oldest and highly prestigious media houses honoured Sankara Nethralaya as one of the 21 healthcare institutions in the State and its Founder Dr SS.Badrinath for their service to society. The awards were presented by His Excellency Banwari Lal Purohit, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu on the 17th of March 2018 at ‘Hotel Feathers’, Chennai and attended by  Shri C.Vijaya Baskar, Health Minister and Shri J.Radhakrishnan, Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu. The event also witnessed the launch of The Hindu’s coffee table book honouring leading institutions which have contributed significantly to healthcare in the country. The first copy of the book titled ‘Doyens Guardians of Healthcare – Tamil Nadu 2018’, which has an exclusive chapter dedicated to Sankara Nethralaya was launched by the Governor and received by Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Ambassador of West Bengal.

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 (http://www.eso.sankaranethralaya.org/drev-2018-e-book/index.html).

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

Scleral

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.