When the rural teleophthalmology project was inaugurated in West Bengal on January 23, 2009 by Governor Shri. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, there was a magnanimous gesture made on the occasion to benefit the rural poor of West Bengal. Bellary Iron Ores Pvt. Ltd Managing Director Shri. S.K. Modi, well-wisher of Sankara Nethralaya, committed to sponsor 1,000 cataract surgeries which were to be completed in a year’s time.
In the months to follow, Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata slowly and steadily took its eye care services to the doorsteps of the rural poor. Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata, until October, has been able to conduct 48 eye camps, examining close to 7,000 patients, in various districts of the State. In November 2009, Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata was able to complete the 1,000 cataract surgeries which Shri. Modi had so graciously sponsored. A combined effort by our ophthalmologists, optometrists and other teleophthalmology staff at Kolkata has ensured that the target surgeries have been completed in under a year’s time. Patients who underwent the free cataract surgeries were brought from several districts of the State, including Midinipore, Burdwan, Hooghly, North Parganas, Sunderban etc.
Eye camps by Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata include conducting a free comprehensive eye examination, screening patients for cataract and providing spectacles at the campsite. A team of four-five optometrists, along with a fellow consultant and a mobile refraction van which provides spectacles, visit nearby villages on weekends for the benefit of the rural poor.