In a major rehabilitation initiative to the neuro-visually challenged patients, the departments of Binocular vision clinic and neuro ophthal services at Sankara nethralaya came together to combine and leverage their knowledge in their respective fields to find novel techniques that offer remedial solutions through the Neuro- Optometry Clinic.
Delivering the welcome address, Dr. S.Ambika, Director, Department of Neuro Ophthalmology Services, remarked that the launching of the Neuro Optometry clinic heralded the beginning of an evolutionary and revolutionary chapter in blindness prevention. Dr. Smitha Praveen, Consultant at the Neuro Ophthalmology Department, quoting illustrious neuro scientist Dr V S Ramachandran, on the mysterious infinite functionalities of the brain, which by and large happened through visual occurrences to the brain, explained the role of Neuro- opto clinical services in depth, emphasizing that the care offered would largely be rehabilitative in nature, to benefit the visually challenged owing to traumatic brain injury resulting in visual debilitation, as also to patients affected by Paralytic strokes, Alzheimer disease or multiple sclerosis, affecting vision or managing diplopia or any visual dysfunction.
Ms. Revathy Saravanan, Head, Neuro Opto Clinic, gave a brief on how the idea evolved to start these services at Sankara Nethralaya along the lines of NORA- Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association at the United States. She enumerated statistics and modalities on patient treatment and impressive success rate for over 31 Acquired Brain Injury cases resulting in visual disorders. Ms. Jameel Rizwana, Head, Binocular Vision Clinic elaborated on the State of the art Binocular vision clinical services available at Sankara Nethralaya to treat vision deficits through, perceptual, vestibular therapy and by administering binasal occlusions, prisms and addition of lenses to neuro visually challenged patients.
The day witnessed the signing of an MoU between the Elite School of Optometry, the academic wing of Sankara Nethralaya and the University of Melbourne aiming at pursuing academic and research initiatives, collaborative studies and exchange of faculty and students between the two institutions, by Dr. Trichur Vidyasagar, Head, Visual and cognitive neuroscience laboratory, University of Melbourne and Dr.SS Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya. Introducing the Guest of Honour, Dr. Vidya Sagar as a pioneer researcher in neural circuitry that underpins visual perception in cats and non-human primates, Dr. Krishna Kumar, Principal, Elite School of Optometry observed that Sankara Nethralaya was honoured to be associated in a joint initiative with an institution of such international repute.
In his fascinating lecture, “Vision – A Key to unlock the brain”, Prof. Vidya Sagar underlined their principle research studies on visual cortex involving spatial arrangements and mapping at the brain. With impressive examples of English script reading being left to right and Persian/ Urdu/ Arabic being Right to left, he enumerated the activation and involvement of occipital regions of the brain giving its plasticity for sequencing in space and ideas. He also detailed the role of Action video games that showed considerable improvements in dyslexia patients.
The distinguished Chief Guest for the day Dr. Arjundas,, hailed as “Father of Neurology”, inaugurated the Neuro Optometry clinic, to the thunderous applause of the gathering. In his address, Dr. Arjundas appealed to the researchers at Sankara Nethralaya, to ‘go beyond’ the eye to the back of the brain to study its ‘visual functionalities’ and translate their findings for the benefit of human kind.
The impressive day concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Shikha Talwar Bassi, Deputy Director, Department of Neuro- Ophthalmology.