Quality eye care rolls by road to the closed communities of rural Tamil Nadu


The Mobile Eye Surgical Unit, Sankara Nethralaya’s operation theatre on wheels took off on yet another sojourn of relief and care to the underprivileged citizens living in the backward and interiors pockets of the State. The Outdoor Eye Care team comprising of Dr P.S. Rajesh, Senior Consultant, V.Sivakumar, Administrator, Jaslok Community Ophthalmology Center, Shri Chandra Kumar, Social worker, Shri Padmanabhan, Driver of the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit and Shri Venkatraman, Operation Theatre Assistant left for Vettavelam and Udayarpalayam two interior hamlets located on the Villupuram-Tiruvannamalai route on the 26th of January 2014. The outdoor eye care team was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and cheer by the local populace suffering from lack of access to quality eyecare in both hamlets. The screening camp at Vettavelam was supported by the Sai Trust and Shri Manigandan a local political functionary, a total of 419 patients were screened between the 26th of January to the 3rd of February and 43 patients diagnosed with Cataract were operated upon at the MESU. The post operative screening was completed on the 5th of February and the relief crew left for Udayarpalayam its next port of call on the evening of the same day.


The Udayarpalayam camp had a special significance for the Sankara Nethralaya team as the Mahaperiyava of Kanchi had camped here, worshipped at the local Shiva Temple and performed Tapas at the dhyana mandapam located at the centre of the temple tank by reaching it on a motorized raft. The camp was actively supported by the Zamindar of Udayarpalayam a man held in high esteem and love by the local people and the mobile surgical units were parked from the 6th to the 14th of February at the land provided by him for the purpose. In keeping with the dictum that when you do a good thing you would find support coming from many quarters, Shri Subramanian a member of the Lion’s Club and local resident provided excellent food and refreshments to the entire eye care team for the entire period of the camp. A total of 476 people were thoroughly examined between the 6th and 8th of February and surgeries were performed on 95 patients between the 9th to the 13th of February followed by postoperative examination on the 14th of February.

The camp conducted in these two places captured the spirit of the Mobile eye Surgical Unit by taking eye care to people who had little or no interaction with the outside world beyond the limits of their town and practically no access to health care, a good portion of the youth in these villages had migrated outside of the village in search of livelihood and many of the patients did not have escorts to take them back to their homes post surgery, the Sankara Nethralaya team rose to the occasssion by arranging transport  and personally escorting  such patients to their homes. Service to mankind is said to be service to God and the camp provided the team with the rare opportunity of offering worship at the local temple and the Maragatha Lingam not known to many in the outside world. The overwhelmed locals in both villages thanked the doctor and the team for the great gesture of binging quality eye care right to their door step and bringing the light of life back into their lives, they made an emphatic appeal to the team to explore the possibility of having a screening facility right at their village around the year which could refer patients needing surgery to the base hospital at Chennai. The highlight of the camp was that the post operative examination conducted in both the camps indicated zero complication and a jubilant and highly fulfilled mobile eye care team returned with great memories of the picturesque villages, the Zamindar’s old palace, worshipping at the local temple and the great opportunity of being able to bring back vision to the simple village folk.

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