The Elite School of Optometry (ESO) an educational arm of Sankara Nethralaya has been encouraging optometry research in India since its inception. A critical initiative of the ESO in this direction is the holding of the Annual Conference in Vision Science and Optometry which has over the years acquired the status of a major professional meet and draws optometry professional at all levels. The conference is named in honour of Late Dr E Vaithilingam, a pioneer in the field of optometry, who served with distinction as the Principal of the ESO from 1991 to 2001 and made significant contributions to the growth and development of Research in the ESO. The session was started in 2002 with the objective of encouraging optometrists and optometry students from all over India to interact, discuss and present their research work and it is indeed heartening to note that the quality and volume of presentations have been progressively enhancing every year.
The twelfth EV Memorial Scientific Session conducted recently at the Sri V D Swami Auditorium, Sankara Nethralaya had three hundred delegates from 11 optometry colleges located across the country enthusiastically participating in it. The proceedings started with an inspiring talk on “Social Accountability in health care education” the central theme of the session by Dr Anand Zachariah from CMC Vellore. This was followed by a thought provoking talk on “ Social accountability of Optometrists in Low Vision Care” by Dr Namita Jacob, from the Chetna Foundation which concluded with the famous quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” given by M K Gandhi. leaving the audience highly impressed. Prof. Pichaimuthu, Professor of Principles of Lighting, ESO gave an interesting note on Dr. E. Vaithilingam and recalled his association and memorable experiences with the great man.
The highlight of this year’s session was the introduction of the highly effective method of conducting focused group discussions on each research area in optometry; this had a good impact and was very well received by the participants. The occasion witnessed the presentation of several papers and around 72 abstracts on varied themes such as Binocular vision, Low Vision, Contact Lens, Pediatric optometry & Visual acuity charts, Refractive error, Cornea, Cataract & External eye diseases, Innovations in Optometric education, Community eye care, Glaucoma and Retinal diseases. were shortlisted. A summary of the group discussions containing the salient features of different research areas was given as a consolidated report for the benefit of the participants. An expression of deep gratitude by a patient whose low vision improved significantly with the help of CCTV a low vision aid prescribed by the Low Vision Clinic at Sankara Nethralaya was a very touching moment in the day’s proceedings. Ms. Rekha Srinivasan, B.S. Optometry final year student at the Elite school of Optometry won the Best Scientific presentation in the student category and Dr. Shrikant Bharadwaj, Associate Director of Optometry, L V Prasad Eye institute was selected for the same in the regular category. While Essilor India Private Ltd the optical major announced the sponsorship of travel grants for 10 eligible researchers beginning this year, companies like Vision Rx, Hoya, Vakil & co & Shoham Low Vision Aids sponsored the session. The session was webcast for the benefit of those who could not be present in person.