As an ophthalmic institution laying high importance on the preventive aspects of eye care as much as its curative aspects, Sankara Nethralaya has been in the forefront of creating awareness on the various facets of preventive eye care since its inception. Short films and events on the importance of eye donation and the massive Diabetic Retinopathy project conducted with monetary support from the Lions Club of Central Madras in the year 2003which benefitted a massive 150,000 people are cases in point of its emphasis on maintaining good vision and eye health through preventive measures. The diabetic retinopathy camp conducted in 2003 opened the people’s eyes to the disturbing fact that of the 26,519 diabetics screened an alarming 17.6% were suffering from varying stages of diabetic retinopathy, this made Sankara Nethralaya’s resolve to fight diabetic retinopathy even stronger. Hence it is little wonder that the institution decided to observe ‘World Diabetes Day’ in a manner befitting its importance and significance. Plans for the celebration started well in advance with the release of an awareness advertisement in ‘The Hindu’ and a note to the Press requesting them to cover the event and carry the message to the public at large.
While the entire 4th floor of the Sri Venugopal block was converted into a screening facility, staff members from various departments, SWAN (Sankara Nethralaya Women’s Auxiliary) volunteers Srimathi Surekha Mehta and Srimathi Kausalya Appukutty and Lion Harinarayanan a well wisher of the institution made themselves available at the spot to ensure the comfort of the visitors and quick and effective flow of processes. While the screening camp was organized by senior Consultants Dr. Tarun Sharma, Medical Director, Sankara Nethralaya and Director, Bhagwan Mahaveer Vitreo-retinal Services and Dr. Rajiv Raman from the vitreo-retinal department the testing of patients and counseling were carried out by them along with Dr.G.Suganeshwari, Senior Consultant from the Vitro-Retina department and Ms.A.Vijayalakshmi, Manager-Optometry with assistance from their team members. The high importance accorded to the screening camp could be gauged by the fact that none other than Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya turned up as the first visitor at the registration counter, he underwent every step of the screening process right from the registration to make sure in first hand that everything was in place and perfection, he also made enquiries to the waiting patients regarding their comfort and the service quality. Later Dr. S.Bhaskaran, Chairman and Dr.T.S.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya inspected the camp to ensure that everything was in place.
The patients who had turned up for screening were served sugar free beverages, biscuits and a diabetic lunch, cost free and counseled on diabetic retinopathy through a short film on the subject and awareness lectures by Dr Rajiv Raman and Dr Suganeshwari. Strong media support was accorded to the event by a live coverage of the same by Door Darshan Kendra which included interviews of Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr TS.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Dr Rajiv Raman and Dr Suganeshwari, Sankara Nethralaya and Lion Harinarayanan from the Lions Club of Central Madras, who recalled the close association between Sankara Nethralaya and the Lions club of Central Madras and traced the monetary and moral support extended by the club to Sankara Nethralaya’s initiatives towards creating awareness and treating diabetic retinopathy right from 1998, the same was subsequently telecast on prime time in DD’s Podhigai channel in the ‘Arogya Bharatham’ programme on the19th of November 2013.