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The leaders in Contact lens manufacture and its practice/usage join hands for an enlightening session

Sankara Nethralaya conducted a unique contact lens educational program in collaboration and support from Bausch and Lomb in Kolkatta for the practicing Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals.  The program is named “B+Lieve”. The objective of “B+Lieve” is to provide opportunity to the practicing professionals to interact with the subject experts during a one day program on various topics which will help them enhance their practice and take it to the next level of expertise.

The program was a great success with nearly 100 delegates filling the hall by 8.30a.m itself on a Sunday morning 30th September. The program was lined up with interesting topics including tear film dynamics and contact lens wear, soft contact lens materials, Contact lens wear with digital device use, and a live demonstration and lectures on multifocal fitting, mini scleral and scleral lens fitting.  Distinguished faculty from various fraternity of optometry, Optom and Professor Mr.Jayanta Bhattacharya, IACLE Director of Educational Programs, Mr.Nilesh Thite, Mr. Khem Raj Nackwal, Professional service manager B+L, Optom Ms.Puja Banerjee Optom SN kolkatta, Optom Mr. Indranil from B+L Regional Professional service person from Kolkatta and Dr.Rajeswari Mahadevan Head of contact lens department at SN delivered interesting the lectures.

The session included interesting panel discussion conducted by Mr.Khemraj, Professional services head Bauch+Lomb, about contact lens care. The panel included optometrist practicing optometrist and Head of  from Chain optical outlets , independent practitioners, educationists and researchers which made it very lively and to spell out need of the hour points on lens care. The feedback about program was very good and delegates showed the interest more of such programs along with hands on workshops. The Kolkatta optometry team headed by Ms.Payel , contact lens team  and Bausch + Lomb team made this event very successful by organising things in a timely manner.

An ascetic from the Ramakrishna Order inspires and educates members of SN on the nation’s 72nd Independence Day.

The Sankara Nethralaya family celebrated the nation’s 72nd Independence Day with great patriotic fervour, the presence of Swamy Vimurthananda, an eminent spiritualist and speaker from the Ramakrishna Order as the chief guest added to the nationalistic spirit of the day. The celebrations started with a soulful rendering of Muhammad Iqbal’s timeless patriotic song ‘Saare Jahan Se accha’ by students of the Sankara Nethralaya Academy. It was a day of great learning and retrospection for members of the Sankara Nethralaya family as the accomplished speaker from the Ramakrishna Mission, Chennai, well known for his role in bringing out the in-house journal of the Mutt and his exhaustive relief work among leprosy patients, gave a spirited talk touching on the worldly and spiritual aspects of life, in the true tradition of the Ramakrishna Order. The Swamiji observed that being a part of the Independence Day celebrations at Sankara Nethralaya was always a great pleasure as the institution observed it as a day of national importance and a day of acknowledging and rewarding the quality and service orientation of its employees.

The Swamiji compared Sankara Nethralaya as a large tree with strong roots in terms of its ethics, tradition, service and quality, well embedded into the nation’s psyche which made it a strong tree that will not fall easily. Underlining Swamy Vivekananda’s lines for renunciation from worldly pleasures and exhorting every citizen to be a giver and a contributor, he observed that he saw Sankara Nethralaya as a ‘Celebration of sacrifice’ with the spirit of service exhibited by everyone from the senior most doctor to the sweeper who kept the place clean. Complimenting the institution on its consistent overall growth he highlighted the Master’s emphatic call to realize one’s spiritual strength as the only way to realizing one’s goals and reaching greater heights in worldly and spiritual growth.

The Swamiji recalled the historic speech of Swami Vivekananda at the ‘Parliament of the World’s Religions’ at Chicago in year 1893 where he most poignantly addressed the gathering as ‘brothers and sisters of America’ which had an electrifying effect on the audience, his prophetic address in year 1897 where he referrd to the great change that would come after 50 years which was proved right with India gaining independence in year 1947. Swami Vimurthananda highlighted that Swami Vivekananda’s soul stirring speeches and the Bhagvad Gita became the clarion call and guiding words for the great men and women who fought for the nation’s freedom. The erudite scholar and orator concluded his absorbing and educative talk with a fervent appeal to the Government of India to honour Dr SS.Badrinath with the nation’s highest civilian award the ‘Bharat Ratna’ in recognition of the selfless service that he and his institution have rendered to society.

The day witnessed the honouring of the ‘Best employee’ (Man) and ‘Best employee’ (Woman) of the year and acknowledging and rewarding  of employees for their period of service, good performance, awards for the best department, sports awards, educational grants for children of employees etc.

A very special facility for a very special group is inaugurated by a very special person!

Special Children ClinicThe 1st of August 2018 marked yet another critical step towards better ophthalmic diagnosis and treatment of children for an institution which could be credited with starting an exclusive paediatric ophthalmology unit and extending specialized diagnosis and treatment to this delicate segment. The day marked the inaugural of the ‘Special Children Clinic’ a special facility with suitable infrastructure and processes within the department to effectively examine a large sub-group among this category of paediatric patients. Broadly termed as ‘Special Children’ they consisted of children with vision problems effected by various mental and physical disabilities, children who cannot express themselves the way normal kids do and hence cannot be subjected to regular paediatric ophthalmic examination that work for normal children, children who need special attention and functional assessment.

The ‘Special Children Clinic’ being opened had been a long time dream of the institution and having the facility inaugurated by Professor Peter Allen made it a case of ‘right man in the right place opening the right facility’ to quote the words of Dr. Jameel Rizwana Hisaindeen, HOD - Binocular vision/ Vision therapy clinic, Sankara Nethralaya,  a key architect of the facility. Dr. Viswanathan S. HOD, Optometry and Optical services, Sankara Nethralaya, an expert in Myopia and another moving force behind the formation of the clinic introduced the star speaker of the day Dr Peter Allen, Professor of Optometry and Visual Sciences, Head of Visual Function and Physiology Research Group, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

The chief guest’s oration on the topic ’Management of Visual issues in Dyslexia & Sports Vision’ proved to be a cascade of facts by the unrivalled expert in the field. Dr Allen explained the difficulties faced by ‘Special Children’ in reading, writing and spelling, he spoke in length on conditions like dyslexia which is neurological in origin, phonological issues that make recognizing letters difficult, the expert spoke on the causes, prevalence and care giving to such patients, adding that such challenges were often misinterpreted as a sign of low IQ while intelligence had little to do with it and often such ‘Special Children’ were quite intelligent. He underlined that while in the UK such conditions were screened/diagnosed by a psychologist, the same could be better managed if perceived as a multi factorial issue which needs a multidisciplinary approach combining the expertise of a child psychologist, special teacher, paediatric ophthalmologist and optometrist. He explained that while Binocular stress and visual instability could be typical optometric manifestations among the effected segment other typical symptoms could be reading difficulty, eye fatigue, constant rubbing of the eyes by the child, need to bring the written matter close to the eyes while reading and poor concentration, he added that such patients often exhibited optometric anomalies like absence of strabismus, squint, lack of evidence of decongested heterophoria, absence of convergence insufficiency, hence the issue needed an individualized, evidence based approach involving clinical optometry and clinical trials.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Rizwana acknowledged the role of world famous Geneticist Dr Kumaramanickavel and Ms Kalpa Negiloni, Senior Research Optometrist at Sankara Nethralaya and lecturer at the Elite School of Optometry in the inception of the clinic. She recalled that the deliberation at EIVOC 2010 and 2016 laid the early seeds to the formation of the facility.

Dr Namita Jacob working with several national & international organizations in the areas of sensory impairments, multiple disabilities & early childhood development was the special guest of the function, hailed the new initiative as a ‘Fantastic Thing’ describing it as a boon for kids with autism, down’s syndrome and other conditions, she said that the facility being inaugurated was her dream since year 2003 and it was her good fortune that she met people like Dr. Kumaramanickavel and Dr Krishna Kumar, Principal, Elite School of Optometry who empathized with her cause and shared her concern for this group’s special needs. The critical role of Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology dept, Sankara Nethralaya as the guru and guide to the forming of the institution and the person who raised the necessary funds for starting the facility were recalled with gratitude at the inaugural of the special facility where paediatric ophthalmologists and paediatric optometrists would join hands in dispensing ‘special eye care’ to ‘Special children’

The queen of expressions captures a 40 year saga of touching and transforming lives, with great intensity

The pleasant evening of Thursday the 6th of September 2018 being celebrated as the 40th Foundation day of Sankara Nethralaya began with a soulful invocation to Lord Ganesha by Srimathi Gomathisri. Extending his warm welcome and thanking the attendees for their presence, Dr Girish Shiva Rao, Medical Director, Sankara Nethralaya began his talk on a note of caution that the institution has traversed a period of time (40 years) in its life when men and women are prone to a common age related eye ailment called ‘Presbyopia’ which makes it difficult to see objects at a close distance and reading fine print, the observation was a call to avoid a short sighted approach and take the right steps for the institution to stay relevant in today’s changing world, as it was when it was started 4 decades back.

Starting her address on a lighter vein that she enjoyed reaching her Presbyopic age along with the institution, Srimathi Akila Ganesan- Director, Administration gave a most poignant account of the four glorious decades by emphasising Sankara Nethralaya’s story of giving, bonding, ethical practice without disparity to paying and patients treated cost free, knowledge dissemination for the common good through quality educational institutions, a highly supportive board of directors and committed and dedicated doctors and abundant blessings from the Guru without which none of the above would have made sense.

The institution had the divine fortune of being blessed by His Holiness Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal the Pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on the momentous occasion. Hailing the institution as a very special entity which was blessed by both the Periyavas, the Seer lauded Dr SS.Badrinath’s work as a ‘Himalayan Service’. He had a high word of praise for the institution’s holistic approach to treating blindness, combining clinical expertise and cost free care, a case of the heart meeting the brain and its propensity to acquire knowledge from the world over to benefit its patients both rich and poor, a virtue enshrined in the ancient scriptures. Punning on the Tamil adage ‘Kannum Karuthum’ which translates as ‘With utmost care’ he observed that the institution played the dual role of treating the eye and touching the heart with its philosophy of service.

Vice President, Sankara Nethralaya and Director of Pediatric Ophthalmology Dr TS.Surendran, among the institution’s early employees took the audience on a nostalgic trip laced with humour, providing the lighter moments of the evening and insights into an eventful past.

Delivering the most awaited chief guest’s address on the topic ‘My reminiscences of Sankara Nethralaya’ legendary Danseuse and cultural icon, Barata Jyoti Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam hailed Dr SS.Badrinath as a ‘Kaliyuga Danavantri’ whose life can be best described as ‘Karana Janma’ or a ‘Life full of purpose’ she lauded the institution as a place where values percolate from the top to every level of the hierarchy and described the event as a celebration of the 40th year of service by the Sankara Nethralaya team from Dr SS.Badrinath to the sentry/car park attendant. The long time friend of and well wisher of the institution recapped the golden chapter in Sankara Nethralaya’s history when its founder was blessed with the opportunity to treat the Living God HH Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Swamigal, her most memorable performance for the institution for which she had chosen songs with the eye as the central theme with great support from the legendary Dr.Balamurali Krishna. Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam eulogized Sankara Nethralaya as another root of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, a Hindu institution which served with the true spirit of service without any expectations and concluded her oration with the observation that the institution was blessed with angelic doctors and enjoyed phenomenal worldwide repute and her wishes for its ‘Ruby Jubilee’.

A major event of the day was the launch of the ‘Sankara Nethralaya Anthem’ or theme song, the brainchild and dream project of Sankara Ratna VV.Ranganathan a long time friend and well wisher of the instititution and its founder and the tireless efforts by him, Dr. Vani Jairam who has given life to the touching lyrics the way only she can, in 4 languages and Shri Dakshin the music director. The event witnessed generous donations towards its cause by Lion Harinarayanan and Lion R. Chandrasekharan and came to a close with a warm vote of thanks by Srimathi Sudha Mohan, Senior Manager-HRD, who described the day as a day of nostalgia to many, news to some.

Four decades of tender ophthalmic care to the nation’s future citizens wins its due recognition!

Dispensing eye care to children has always been a challenge to ophthalmologists in view of the fact that they may not be able to express their discomfort or symptoms in a very clear manner, the way adults can. As a pioneer in eye care, Sankara Nethralaya has the distinction of operating a large, exclusive paediatric ophthalmology department which treats a large number of children from just born to teens, from all over the country, the department is also credited with having developed special diagnostic/treatment protocols  to effectively treat this gentle segment.

The  66th annual conference of the Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic Association (TNOA) conducted as ‘Pudhu Vue-2018’ on the 10th,11th and 12th of August at the Mahathma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institution, Puducherry witnessed the honouring of Dr TS.Surendran, Director- Department of Ophthalmology and Vice Chairman Sankara Nethralaya, who is credited with having pioneered pediatric ophthalmology as a specialty at Sankara Nethralaya and the man who trained and built a team in this niche specialty, with a Lifetime Achievement award. The prestigious award presented by Ms Kiran Bedi, Lieutenant Governor of   Puducherry and the loud applause and cheering by the large fraternity of ophthalmologists gathered at the venue came as a tribute not only to the veteran paediatric ophthalmologist’s professional skills, dedication, acumen and for successfully treating a large number of children during his long and glorious career, but also for his personalized and loving care to his little VIPs (very important patients!).

The Sankara Nethralaya family salutes its Vice Chairman and Director –Pediatric  Ophthalmology department on being accorded this high honour for his lifelong services, by a premium professional body and conveys its hearty Congratulations.

Congrats Sir!!

Melodious music touches the soul and moves hearts at Lemont

The auditorium at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont presented a festive picture on the evening of Sunday August 12th, 2018 with Carnatic music aficionados from Lemont and neighbouring areas gathered in good numbers. The occasion was a Carnatic music concert to create awareness on the cost free community service to poor visually impaired patients in India by Sankara Nethralaya the premier, non profit eye hospital in Chennai, among the local Indian community and raise funds in aid of the same, the concert was organized by Mrs Vanita Achar, a long time well wisher, supporter and grand niece of Dr S.S. Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya.

The concert began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha by Mrs Vanita Achar, after which she extended a warm welcome to the audience and expressed her sincere thanks for their presence, followed by a brief note on the objective of the concert. Mr. Vignesh Ramakrishnan the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ (MC) introduced the 4 artists of the day’s concert, Smt Minu Pasupathi of Akshaya Music Academy, the Lead vocalist, Ms Akshaya Kannan providing vocal support, Shri Rishabh Ranganathan on the Violin and Shri Sivagangai Vishvak Kumaran on the Mridangam, all of whom were performing cost free for a noble cause, in response to a request made by Mrs Vanita Achar.

The highlight of the concert was its thematic presentation, the special effort made to choose kritis having a direct connection with eyes, vision and awakening was very evident and impactful. The first 3 Tamizh songs were as follows – Sadashivakumara, Panneer Kondoru, Kadaikkan Vaitthennai, followed by Shambho Siva Sankar (Sanskrit). This soulful rendition of songs about the eyes was followed by a short 8 minute video about Sankara Nethralaya and its services, especially to the weaker sections of society and the need to support its noble initiatives. This was followed by an ‘Eye Donation Pledge’ drive by Dr Raj Rajaram,  supporter and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya. He highlighted that there was no greater gift to mankind than the ‘Gift of Sight’ and fervently appealed to the gathering to help in bringing the lost light and smile back on the face of the poor visually impaired in their motherland by donating generously. The second part of the concert included the following popular songs – Raaraa Rajeeva Lochana (Telugu), Annapurne Visalakshi (Sanskrit), Kandu Kandu Nee (Kannada) and concluded with the song Man ki Aankhen (Hindi).

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the well synchronized performance by the singers and musicians. The event was sponsored by 8K radio, media partner who promoted the event cost free for 2 weeks leading to the event date on their radio and Facebook page. The event concluded with the felicitation of artists, with the audience loudly applauding their sterling performance rendered cost free for a noble cause, as each of them made their way to the dais to be presented with a stemmed rose and honoured by draping of a Pashmina Shawl around their shoulder. Smt Minu Pasupathy the lead artist was honoured with a special memento from Sankara Nethralaya. The evening of fun, filled with soothing music was enjoyed by one and all!

SankaraNethralaya’s quest for a solution to ocular surface disorders reaches far beyond the surface!

The Ocular Surface and Keratoprosthesis Conference (OSKON-2018) the international conference to debate and discuss the challenges faced by the ocular surface of the eye and Keratoprosthesis, conducted from the 27th to 29th of July 2018 had all the elements that make a Sankara Nethralaya event, in a well balanced proportion.

If the 3 day, high power conference attended by national and international expertson the field from the world over went into the depth of the ocular surface, unravelling new facts,questioning old theories,throwing light on new technology, sharing new approaches and real time experience through case studies,the valedictory function held at the packed to capacity Ball Room of The Taj Coramandel on 29th of July 2018,was a giant step towards creating awareness on the gravity of the issue among the political dispensation, seeking political will, mandate and legislation, to give teeth to preventive measures discussed in the meet; another element that gave the conference a distinct Sankara Nethralaya flavour was the fact that it was held as a ‘Thanksgiving’ and ‘Honour’ to the ‘Gurus’ in keeping with the institution’s avowed Guru-Sishya Parampara, to Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli whose revolutionary process Modified osteo-odonto Keratoprosthesis (MOOKP) brought new hope to those suffering with extreme ocular surface issues and Dr G.Sitalakshmi who steered the concept in India.

Extending a warm welcome to the Chief Guest Shri Venkaiah Naidu the Vice President of India, Guest of Honour Shri Bhanwarilal Purohit, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri C.Vijaya Baskar, Health Minister and Shri D.Jayakumar, Minister for Fisheries, at the grand valedictory session, Dr Prema Padmanabhan, the veteran cornea specialist from Sankara Nethralaya observed that the conference was something beyond an academic event confined to acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, she highlighted that it was a collective assertion of the moral responsibility of the cornea fraternity against ocular surface disorders especially those caused by human misconduct and folly, a multi layered approach to a multilayered challenge. Dr Prema Padmanabhan expressed that the presence of the Vice-President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu a dynamic statesman who was unflinching in his beliefs, as the Chief Guest of the event filled everyone with the hope that the entreaties made at the conference will get the right political direction. Her sentiments were echoed by Dr GeethaIyer, Senior Consultant and Organizing Secretary, OSKON 2018, who described ocular surface disorders, especially the ones caused by external factors like accident, careless handling of hazardous substances and planned assaults which disfigured the victim’s appearance as a physical, psychological, social and economic problem impacting the career and marital prospects of the victim. Simplifying the MOOKP process to the non-ophthalmic section of the audience, Dr Iyer added interest to the proceeding with a highly absorbing and emotional short movie of the grandmaster of the art and science of MOOKP, Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli, capturing not only his genius but the warm human being in him. If the short movie capturing their experience in terms of revival of vision, by victims of acid attack and their physical presence at the event came as a real time testimonial to Sankara Nethralaya’s expertise in the process, Dr Geetha’s observation that 70% of MOOKP processeswere done totally cost free at Sankara Nethralaya highlighted the service orientation of an institution, which took the most advanced ophthalmic processes and technology totally cost free to  its indigent patients and drew loud applause from the large national and international gathering

One of the primary objectives of OSKON-2018 was to sensitise the ruling dispensation, seek political will and legislation to give teeth to the resolutions passed at the conference. An institution known for spearheading key initiatives like making it mandatory for maternity hospitals to check expecting mothers for the presence of galactose in the blood since it could result in the babiesbeing born with cataract, an institution which succeeded after a lot of persuasion and presenting of real time evidence in convincing the Union Health Ministry to permit cataract surgeries to be performed in a mobile OT far away from the base hospital, in a remote village and more recently an institution whose study on classroom illumination and seating pattern have been accepted as a blue print by the State’s Directorate of school education, as a guideline to regulate classrooms across the State, Sankara Nethralaya joined hands with likeminded institutions like the All India Institute for Medical Science, New Delhi, Government Eye Hospital, Chennai, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, Arvind Eye Care, Madurai and NGOs like MEER Foundation and ASFI to present a memorandum to the Vice President for passing a legislation prohibiting the sale of slaked lime or ‘Chuna’ in plastic pouchesas well as implement the ban on sale of acids

The event marked the launch of a national campaign towards prevention of corneal blindness due to Chemical Injuries. Speaking on the occasion Dr Shwetha S.Agarwal, Consultant, Cornea Department and member of the OSKON 2018 organizing committee,  made a strong case for making it mandatory for chemists and stores to dispense acid only to customers furnishing an ‘Aadhar Card’ to keep track of buyers and avoid its misuseIf the 3 day scientific session shed new light on the diagnosis and treatment of Ocular surface disorders, the successful treatment of vision loss and damage to the ocular surface caused by the most vitriolic substances including molten metal, the valedictory session succeeded in its objective of reaching out to the ruling dispensation represented on the dais by the Vice president of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu and two senior Ministers of the state. The leaders in their address expressed high admiration for Sankara Nethralaya’s pioneering role in battling blindness, the one of its kind ‘Mobile Eye Surgical Unit’ (MESU) and its revolutionary outreach, its self sustaining financial model, its role in knowledge dissemination, the OSKON 2018 being a good example of the same, they raised their voice in favour of eye donation, advocated state-private partnership in healthcare, outreach programs benefiting the rural poor etc, everyone of them had a high word of admiration for the visionary spirit of founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr.SS.Badinath.

Acid attack survivors being presented with a plaque in admiration of their courage and fighting spirit and the presentation of a plaque of honour by the Vice President of India as a tribute to the grandmaster of MOOKP Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli a humanitarian doctor and simple human being, which was received by rof Christopher Liu in the presence of Mr.Sauro Mezzetti the Italian Consul in Pondicherry, were important highlights of the day.

The highly charged proceedings came to an end with Dr Bhaskar Sinivasan coorganizing secretary OSKON-2018 expressing his sincere thanks to the dignitaries and delegates and everyone who had contributed to the grand success of the event.

A simple adaptation of critical findings of a real time study on ‘Classroom illumination and student seating pattern’ finds place in popular health magazine

We take great pleasure and pride in sharing a case of a niche research initiative by Sankara Nethralaya’s senior optometrist and researcher finding real time significance and high recognition. Ms Kalpa Neglioni, PLOS one Senior Research Optometrist, LASFIN project, Sankara Nethralaya and Lecturer at the Elite School of Optometry (ESO) has been working for long on the prevailing illumination levels and seating modalities in typical Indian classrooms and their impact on the visual comfort and health of children, a most significant and relevant study, in view of the fact that children between 5 yrs and 16 years spend 6 hours every day at the classroom. The studies were done under the guidance of Dr RR. Sudhir, Senior Consultant, CJ Shah Cornea Services, Sankara Nethralaya. The team had made several corrective recommendations in this regard based on their findings. It was a moment of crowning glory to the institution when the recommendations of Ms Kalpa Negiloni made from the understanding of studies conducted over a large number of schools in Tamil Nadu, was adopted by the Directorate of School Education, Tamil Nadu, as a benchmark in regulating the same and shared as a guideline circular with the District Education officers in the State. It is noteworthy to mention here that an earlier study on the topic of lighting and ergonomics in Indian classrooms by Ms Kalpa had found its place of pride, as a human interest article in the ‘Times of India’, she was also recognized by the Elite School of Optometry, for converting her conference paper as an article in a peer reviewed journal.

The entire Sankara Nethralaya family congratulates and salutes Ms Kalpa Neglioni, her team and Dr. Sudhir for this most critical finding and eye opener which would impact the eye health and vision of millions of children in the State. We complement Shri Irungovel, Manager – Patient Counselling and Education for communicating the same to the general readers through his simple adaptation of the same in a popular health magazine.

A grateful institution rejoices in playing host to the launching of the biography of a great friend and supporter

Nani Palkhivala

The name Nani Palkhivala conjures a variety of images like few other personalities do, the sheer versatility of the man leaves anyone thoroughly amazed and awed. A man who was the nation’s foremost constitutional lawyers, civil rights champion, economist whose interpretation of  the union budget was more awaited than the budget itself, a seasoned diplomat whose stint as India’s Ambassador to the USA marked a new height in Indo-US relations, the list is endless, but what made the man different was the ‘Connect’ he had with the common man, he was not the esoteric genius who lived in an ivory tower whose philosophy and beliefs were understood only by the intelligentsia, but a man who was sensitized by happenings around him and sensitized the common man on the same. A man who brought terms like human rights, diplomacy, impact of the budget etc within the understanding and concern of the common man. His observation of Sankara Nethralaya as a place which replenishes his faith in the goodness of mankind, is a classic example of his deep understanding of an institution and its functioning seemingly far out of his purview.

The 20th of July 2018 marked a very special and emotional day for Sankara Nethralaya as it was hosting the launch of the biography of a man who was one of its greatest well wishers, supporters and champions of its cause. The VD Swami auditorium at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus where the launch of the book aptly titled ‘Nani Palkhivala – God’s gift to India’ by Shri Dharmendra Bhandari was happening, presented a picture of an intimate audience, to quote the words of Chief Guest Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi who was releasing the book.  Speaking on the occasion senior members of Sankara Nethralaya, Chairman Emeritus and Founder Dr SS.Badrinath and Dr Girish Rao, Director Medical Affairs recalled how a single visit to the institution left a deep impact on Shri Nani Palkhivala  and became a most important chapter in the institution’s history. Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Director -Administration took the audience on an interesting journey of the institution and its service to mankind since inception as perceived by late Nani Palkhivala

The distinguished audience on the dais reflected the values for which the man whose biography was being released. Chief Guest of the evening Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi the highly principled and public spirited civil servant who served both as a diplomat and the governor of West Bengal with distinction, Retired Judge of the Madras High Court Justice Prabha Sridevan an upright legal luminary, artist, author, human rights/women’s rights activist and member of the Intellectual property rights commission, Shri Dharmendra Bhandari the author, a highly principled auditor and litterateur and Mr S.Mahalingam a master of the art of  communication who was known in corporate circles as a man who knows what, when and how to communicate, a simple man under whose chairmanship TCS scaled great heights and a dedicated member of the Nani Palkhivala Foundation.

The book launch marked an intellectually invigorating evening with highly captivating recollections of the genius, his values, his intellect, sense of justice and fair play, charity, humour and humility. Shri Dharmendra Bhandari recalled him as a rare combination of a corporate czar who worked like a super computer to lead TCS to the status of a world class company, a legal luminary who was appointed into the Law commission by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru twice, a man who served as the attorney general for a single day and a man whose eloquence at the UN assembly decided a large tract of disputed land in the Rann of Kutch in favour of India. Guest of Honour Justice Prabha Sridevan observed with vehemence that if Nani Palkhivala was alive today he would have taught people the true meaning of freedom, emphasised the need for judicial recusal to judges, raised the prestige of the judiciary and demystified GST and demonetisation. Sharing his concern that we are living in a period of greed and gloom, when status has replaced stature, position has replaced prestige, sensation has replaced sacrifice, rhetoric has replaced reason, manipulation has replaced value system, Chief Guest Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi hastened to add that not all is lost and the nation’s judiciary stood as a shining example of high ethical standards, values and independence. He observed that the recent judgements by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Madras High court on the case pertaining to right to privacy and the Supreme court’s pronouncement on the right of the elected government vis-a-vis the  Lt Governor were indeed great verdicts which would have rejoiced Nani Palkhivala, if he was alive today.

Delivering the Vote of Thanks Shri S.Mahalingam recalled that he had the privilege of working under the legend and recalled that late Nani Palkhivala held Dr SS.Badrinath and Sankara Nethralaya his institution in the highest esteem, adding that the only occasion his eloquence exceeded his budget speeches was the occasion when he spoke at the Sankara Nethralaya campus during one of his visits.

The author and publisher of the biography offered the great work at a special price of 50% of the actual cost on the day of launch and committed the entire sale proceeds to Sankara Nethralaya, as a tribute to the man who held the institution in the highest esteem and close to his heart, the same would be utilized to provide cost free eye care to the poor and needy who cannot afford to pay for their treatment.

A high power knowledge dissemination exercise throws light on a least studied/understood ophthalmic challenge!

Ocular Trauma Con 2018

The 12th of July 2018 marked an important day for an institution passionately committed to knowledge dissemination and alleviation of pain and suffering through the same as the institution’s ophthalmic specialty departments namely ‘The Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services’ & ‘Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Vitreo Retinal Services’  came together to organize the ‘OcularTraumaCon-2018’a, high power, international four day conference on ‘Ocular Trauma’ a serious vision impairing condition which according to the WHO affects 55 million people worldwide, leading to partial to total blindness besides causing pain and agony and social stigma owing to disfigurement. While pain or trauma could be an accompanying condition for most kinds of ophthalmic disorders, with the concerned specialty department engaging itself in the relief and control of the same, the Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services department specializes in damage control and pain management to a very large extent owing to the nature of the ophthalmic service it offers and the OculartraumaCON-2018 was the fruit of long period of hard work and planning by Dr Bipasha Mukherjee, Director of the department and her team of Dr Kirthi Koka, Dr Sonam Nissar Poonam, Dr Vathsalya Vijay and other members of the above department. The curtain raiser was held at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium Sankara Nethralaya main campus on the 12th of July 2018 with a warm welcome to the forthcoming event by Dr Bipasha Mukherjee and an interesting note on what it held in store by Dr Kirthi Koka which generated a lot of interest and expectancy towards the conference. A video messages by Dr Muna Bhende, Deputy Director, Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Vitreo Retinal Services Department, which partnered in organizing the event, underlining that Ocular Trauma had an impact on livelihood and the hope that the conference promises to hold the answers to it gave a good perspective to the forthcoming event and the description of ocular trauma as something which did not comply to conclusive evidence or conformity but is interpreted by subjective observation and enhanced with learning from other’s experiences by Dr. Nisar Sonam Poonam, Associate Consultant at the Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services set the tone for the conference. Ocular TraumaCon 2018 assumed great significance as it was being jointly held by three major ophthalmic bodies namely the Ocular Society of India, Asia Pacific Ophthalmic Trauma Society with support from the ‘European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology’ (ESASO) and also doubled as Sankara Nethralaya’s ‘Retina Summit-2018’.

The international meet to discuss pain and suffering, aptly described by Dr Pramod Bhende, Medical Director-Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya as a ‘theme based knowledge dissemination initiative’ got off to the soothing tunes of Maestro Amjad Ali Khan’s Sarod in accompaniment with Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash at the packed to capacity Rajendra Hall, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai on 13th July 2018. The event generated significant interest and expectancy as it was an attempt to decipher and better understand one of the least recognized and studied factors causing blindness and was being participated by a galaxy of experts specializing in different ophthalmic specialties from the world over, since ocular trauma could occur in any region of the eye.

The three day event witnessed talks by more than 150 star speakers from across specialties who shared the latest treatment modalities, techniques and advances in handling ocular trauma and their critical real time experiences, which came as a source of great learning. Speakers strongly emphasised on a multi-disciplinary approach to treating ocular trauma, involving every sub-specialty of ophthalmology into it, creating awareness among the public and the need for government policy/legislation among policy makers, having an exclusive trauma care unit in every ophthalmic centre, creating a Fellowship and certification course in trauma care, grooming young ophthalmologists in the field of trauma care, creation of evidence based medicine, tested and proven guidelines, the need to make quick decisions when a patient is brought with a serious traumatic condition etc. Highlights at the meeting underlining the scope of trauma care were the observation by Dr Rupesh Agarwal, Secretary, Asia Pacific Ocular Trauma Society that the US military’s eye care division was willing to extend help in developing this field as a separate sub-specialty in view of the large number of soldiers who suffered damage in the eye during combat and showcasing of their ‘Air Ambulance’ which is pressed into service to transport accident victims to the hospital, shrinking time and distance, by Dr S.Raja Sabapathy, Head of Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore.

While the 3 day meeting facilitated a robust sharing of perceptions, approaches, current best practices in ocular trauma, leading to a better understanding of the same, the greater achievement of the exercise was that it succeeded in gaining ‘Ocular Trauma’ it’s long overdue recognition and place as a distinctly different and critical branch of ophthalmology.

The huge success of Ocular TraumaCON 2018 is a matter of great pride to Sankara Nethralaya the host institution as it reflected the meticulous planning, organizing and execution of the event by Dr Rajiv Raman and Dr Pradeep Susvar, Senior Consultants from its Vitroretina department who played the role of the Organizing Secretary and Joint Organizing Secretary of the event. Dr Pradeep Susvar in his address highlighted his department’s role in terms of the large number of patients it served every day, Fellows trained, offering 24X7 trauma care services for clinical and surgical management, large scale diabetic retinopathy screening, contributing to 50% of literature on DR, its highly impactful Lions skill transfer program and the department being completely digitalized and equipped with State of the Art equipment. Dr Rajiv Raman extended his sincere thanks to every delegate attending the TraumaCON-2018 for sharing their knowledge, understanding and personal experience which made the event a great learning opportunity and memorable to all attendees.

The event witnessed the induction of Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Founder Sankara Nethralaya and a leading light and doyen of ophthalmology, referred to as ‘Father of Vitroretina’ in India’ and Dr S.Natarajan, Founder and CEO of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai into the ‘Retina Hall of Fame’