March 2016

Global body dedicated to education and best practices in Contact Lens usage, chooses expert from Sankara Nethralaya to lead its Asia Pacific region.

It is with a sense of great pride and joy that we share that Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, Head of the Contact Lens Centre, Sankara Nethralaya and Assistant Professor, Elite School of Optometry, has been appointed as the ‘Asia Pacific Regional President’ of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE), the global educational organization dedicated to raising the standard of contact lens education worldwide and promote the widespread and safe use of Contact lens. It would be noteworthy to recall here that she was selected as ‘IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens educator of the Year’ and certified as a Fellow of the highly prestigious British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) in year 2014.

A company synonymous with vibrant colours chooses ‘harvesting’ of colourless ‘fluid of life’ to give back to society.

As an institution committed to the conservation and optimum usage of natural resources, Sankara  Nethralaya commissioned ‘Rain Water Harvesting’ systems (RWH) at six locations within its main campus, to effectively capture and store rainwater for future use. The project was sponsored by “Asian Paints” India’s leading manufacturer of paints for decorative and industrial purposes, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and executed by Akash Ganga Trust the well known not for profit and Citizen’s action group.

At a simple function launching the “Rainwater Harvesting systems” held on 30th March 2016, Dr. Shekar Raghavan, Director, Akash Ganga-Rain Centre, expressed that their team was proud to implement the system as part of the CSR activities of Asian Paints. In his address, enumerating the activities of the ‘Rain Centre’ including sensitizing people about the critical need for Rain Water Harvesting in view of the evils of mindless urbanization and conducting surveys on the impact of RWH, Dr. Shekar highlighted that they had implemented similar projects at prestigious NGOs such as the Cancer Institute, Ramakrishna Mutt, Madras Seva Sadan and Theosophical Society to name a few.

In his brief address Mr. Cherry, Manager, Quality Assurance, Asian Paints exclaimed that they felt honoured to be associated with Sankara Nethralaya to achieve their goals of “Water neutrality”.

Thanking Mr. Cherry and Dr. Shekar Raghavan, Lt Col. Raghavan, Advisor-Projects, Sankara Nethralaya observed that the effective recycling of water  already being implemented at Sankara Nethralaya and the launch of a new initiative in this direction, in the form of Rain Water Harvesting, would greatly reduce the quantum of water purchased for the hospital’s consumption, leading to long term, recurring savings for the institution.

Sankara Nethralaya hosts “Inflammatio” an electrifying International Colloquium on Uvea

The premier global colloquium on “Intraocular Inflammatory diseases” started off at a glittering function at the Sri V D Swami Auditorium on 18th March 2016 with a mellifluous rendition of the invocation by Dr Manideepa, Fellow at the Pediatric Opthalmology department.

Organising Secretary, Dr. Mamta Agarwal in her introduction to the conference hailed that the international arena would throw open discussions on challenging cases of Uveitis and promote interaction with other specialities.  Eminent Ophthalmologist Dr. Narsing Rao, Professor of Ophthalmology and Pathology, Keck School of Medicine and Director of Uveitis Service, Los Angeles, USA, in his greeting message wished the program a grand success.

Dr. Pramod Bhende, Director, Medical Affairs followed up the ceremonial lighting of the lamp to mark the inaugural of the event with an interesting insight into the genesis of Sankara Nethralaya and its expansion programs on community services.

Senior Uvea Consultant Dr. Sudharshan took the audience through the tour of departmental achievements and activities and hailed glory to their mentor Director Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas.

Dr Amala E George, Senior Uvea Consultant in her introduction to the Guest of Honour Prof James T Rosenbaum, remarked that the institution felt honoured to host Prof Rosenbaum, a graduate from three universities namely Harvard, Stanford and Yale who had over 40 awards to his credit including the International Uveitis Study Group Foundation Gold Medal award American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Clinician Scholar Award and the Alcon Research Institute Scholar award.

Delivering the guest of honour address, Prof James Rosenbaum, the Edward E Rosenbaum Professor of Inflammatory Diseases; Chair, Division of Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases; Professor of Ophthalmology, Medicine and Cell Biology; Head, Uveitis Clinic; Director, Inflammation Research; at the Oregon Health & Science University, discussed the Pitfalls, Progress, promises and challenges in Uveitis care and how technological advances over the last 30 years made tremendous impact on management/ treatment of Uveitis.

Prof Dr. Jyotirmay Biswas, Director, Ocular Pathology and Uveitis services introduced Prof V.Mohan, highly acclaimed Diabetologist and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Ireland and Chief of Dr. Mohan Diabetes Specialities Centre, who in his illustrious career headed several researches that translated to practice management of Diabetes.

Delivering the Presidential address, Prof Dr. Mohan, congratulated Sankara Nethralaya for their India Centric research, he pointed that the way forward was to think ‘out of the box’ and ally with international collaborations for world class research and make research interdisciplinary.

The ensuing three day international conference witnessed in-depth discussions on critical topics including Infectious Uveitis, Auto Inflammation Vs Auto immunity, Sclero-uveitis and its impact, Paediatric  intraocular tuberculosis, Glaucoma in Childhood amongst others.

Sankara Nethralaya organizes a high Power international meet on genetics and genomes in Chennai

Vision Research Foundation (VRF) the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya is hosted the 41st Indian Society of Human Genetics, Annual meeting and international Conference (ISHG 2016) at the Lady Andal Auditorium (SMVRC Hall), Chetpet, Chennai, India, from 3rd March to 5th March, 2016.

The conference titled “Celebrating Genetics- the Human Way” aimed at understanding the various facets of human genetic diseases with the recent technological advancements. Eminent international and national scientists shared their research experiences in deciphering the human genetic diseases. The program included sessions on Cardiac genetics, Epigenetics, Immuno-genetics, Neuro-genetics, Nutrigenomics, Ayurgenomics, Oculogenetics, Oncogenetics, Pediatric genetics, Pharmaco & Personalized genetics, Population genetics and Systems Biology.

The function with a huge participation of between 700 to 1000 delegates from across the world got off to an auspicious start with Dr.Meenakshi Swaminthan, Senior Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Director-Academics, Sankara Nethralaya rendering the ‘Thamizh Thai Vazthu’ and the lighting of the lamp by Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Research, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. T.Ramasami, Director-Strategic planning, Sankara Nethralaya, Professor AJS.Bhanwer, President ISHG, Dr. Myles Axton, Chief Editor, Nature Genetics and Dr A.J.Pandian,Head of the ONGC Department of genetics and molecular biology, Sankara Nethralaya and organizing  secretary of ISHG-2016.

Extending a warm welcome to the gathering Dr. A.J.Pandian expressed that the 3 day event would be an exciting forum and a truly unique platform to exchange and understand cutting edge research in genetics, he assured the participants that commercial support for their work could be sought from the sponsors present at their respective stalls at the venue and they could also exchange their research work with key people in the field during the session. Speaking on the occasion Dr T.Ramasami distinguished researcher and former Science and Technology secretary to the government of India expressed that the ISHG-2016 would be a wonderful opportunity for researchers working in the realm of genetics to come together and find solutions for diseases at a molecular level and through an integrated approach. Remarking in lighter vein that Science raised more questions than it answered, he underlined that a large percent of the world’s population cannot afford avail Medicare at its current costs and the only alternative is preventive healthcare where a study in genetics can play a crucial role, he urged the scientists gathered to find solutions through genetic research. He observed that the ISHG is a part of the week long ‘Science Day’ celebrations being observed in honour of Sir C.V. Raman. Professor AJS Bhanwer, Director ISHG expressed that society at large would be grateful to Dr. AJ Pandian and his team for the impressive show in genetics, he expressed that the study in genes and genomics has made rapid strides in the last decade, contributing significantly to the diagnosis of diseases. Delivering the keynote address on the topic ‘Human genetics and the prospects of preventive medicine’ Chief Editor of highly respected science journal ‘Nature Genetics’ took the audience through an interesting journey on the recent findings in the field of genetics, he emphasized that any research in the field of genetics is an investment which would pay rich dividends in the future. He explained that the salient feature of genetics is that it helps to understand the impact of genes in specific local groups and then compare and deduce the same at a macro level by comparing with other groups, he cited some ground breaking study made among the population of Iceland to drive home his point. Current research trends, global and in India, discussed in detail at the ISHG 2016 proved to be a great inspiration to the participating scientists/researchers/students. The event turned out to be a highly exciting and interesting in terms of knowledge acquisition and a fun experience for the participants with some great cultural events and sightseeing.

A high level deliberation throws light on a complex and intriguing area of eye care

As an eye care institution committed to a 360 degree approach to eye care, Sankara Nethralaya takes a holistic view of factors contributing to eye disorders, the institution has a most advanced neuro-ophthalmology department to diagnose eye ailments caused by nervous disorders or those transmitted from the brain/central nervous system. Vision impairments caused by traumatic brain surgeries, cerebro-vascular accidents including stroke, intracranial surgeries, intraocular tumour extraction, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and neurological illnesses contributed by ocular disturbances remain the most challenging and intriguing to ophthalmologists the world over. The neuro-optometry clinic started recently is a major initiative in addressing such issues. Sankara Nethralaya’s neuro-ophthalmology department conducted a ‘Symposium in Neuro ophthalmology: Afferents Plus Efferents’ (SYNAPSE 2K16) a high level interactive platform for Neuro-ophthalmologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, researchers and students to meet, explore, debate and exchange information, knowledge and real-time cases. The presence of internationally acclaimed professionals like Dr.Andrew Lee, Dr. Prem Padmanabhan,       Dr. Clement Tan, Dr. Dan Milieu, Dr Sharon Tow, Dr. G.Arjundas, Dr. Vivek Lal, Dr.. Lekha Pandit, Dr. Suresh Bapu, Dr. Sidharth Ghosh, Dr.Lingam Gopal, Dr. Depak Arjundas, and Dr.Lakshmi Narasimhalu underlined the significance of the meet.

The inaugural of the two day meet was graced by long time friend and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya Professor Bala Balachandran, Founder of the world renowned Great Lakes University in India. Delivering the welcome address Dr S.Ambika, Senior Consultant, Neuro-Opthalmology Department thanked the distinguished guests for gracing the occasion, she explained that the objective of the meeting was to explore and study the best practices in neuro-ophthalmology, which she likened to an Alfred Hitchcock mystery. Dr. Ambika had a high word of praise for the neuro-ophthalmology team whose knowledge and work was exemplified by an exhaustive work like the ‘Atlas of Neurology’. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Smitha Praveen, Senior Consultant described Dr. Bala Balachander as a most inspiring academician, excellent teacher and described him as a man with the LSD quotient (Lakshmi-Profit, Saraswathi-Knowledge and Durga-Power). Professor Andrew Lee recalled his association with Sankara Nethralaya dating back to year 2002 and enthralled the audience with an audio-visual presentation titled ‘You are the hero of your own life’

Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya Dr.SS.Badrinath used the occasion to recall his journey of 37 years, right from the days at the Massachusetts Eye Infirmary, the influence of Dr.Charles L.Scheppens on his life, return to India, serving at the Voluntary Health Services Hospital, HM Hospital, Vijaya Hospital, the humble birth and remarkable growth of Sankara Nethralaya to an internationally acclaimed ophthalmic centre, successfully meeting the objective of providing excellent eye care, community ophthalmology, teaching and training and research. He had a high word of praise for the excellent work being carried out by the neuro-opthalmology clinic under Dr.S.Ambika. He emphasized that ‘Quality’ is the most important input and instrumental for the institution being awarded ISO, NABH, NABL, he implored the gathering to never, never compromise quality for quantity. He said it was a matter of utmost Joy that the institution could dispense quality eye care at modest tariff for all eye ailments under one roof, carry out focussed, India centric research and high quality teaching and training endeavours. Dr.SS.Badrinath thanked his colleagues for subscribing to his principle of working for a fixed salary and not engaging in private practice which added financial stress on the paying patients, a practice which impressed the legendary Nani Palkhivala to such an extent that he bequeathed a good portion of his wealth to the institution. He closed his touching talk by expressing his faith that his dedicated colleagues would continue the journey started 38 years ago in the same spirit and philosophy.

Speaking on the topic Technology in Healthcare Management and Data Analysis Dr.Bala Balachandar emphasized that in an increasingly demanding world one has to be distinct or extinct, adding that in  a world of emerging disruptive technologies it is imperative for healthcare providers to adapt themselves to the latest technology, he highlighted that in a world of Uberization, it is critical for healthcare institutions to adapt to corporate practices like mergers, strategic alliances, technology, cyber security and seek the expertise of intermediaries and money managers, like any other enterprise, to survive and succeed in an extremely competitive marketplace. He clarified that making money should not be construed as an unethical exercise; underlining strongly that money should be in good hands, he emphasized that otherwise it would find its way to the hands of undesirable elements; he urged the gathering to earn money legally and ethically.

The high power event came to a close with a Vote of Thanks by Dr.Shikha Talwar Bhassi,   Senior Consultant, Sankara Nethralaya.

‘World Optometry Day’ observed in a befitting manner by the Elite School of Optometry

As part of World Optometry Day celebration 118 students of Elite School of Optometry, the world renowned academic arm of Sankara Nethralaya accompanied by 4 faculty members and an administrator visited a tribal village named Karumanthurai, in the inaccessible Kalvarayan hills in Salem district. The team spent a total of 4 days from the 28th of February to 2nd of March 2016, engaging in various eye care related activities at the remote location, with a socially and economically backward population and little access to quality Medicare.

1. The experts in eye screening of children with a wonderful record in the same screened a total of 3,666 students across 13 schools in a single day (29-02-2016) between 9.30 am and 4.15 pm. A total of 12 student teams comprising 122 members successfully completed the entire operation under the leadership and guidance of Dr. R Krishna Kumar, Principal and N Anuradha, Lecturer and Vision Screening Coordinator. The team was pleasantly surprised to note that only 5 children (0.1%) were found to have refractive errors and 44 children (1.2%) were found to have other eye problems.

2. The ESO team also installed a self testing, illuminated chart in the main market area of the village for creating awareness among the public about their vision status and enabling them to test their eye power with ease. It is noteworthy to add here that the Logmar eye chart used to measure vision acuity was developed in the local language (Tamil) by the ESO, a simple but revolutionary step towards enabling eye check-up of those who were not familiar with the English language. As a next step the ESO began to install such charts in public places to spread its benefit to the masses for whom it was developed. The chart installed at Karumanthurai is the 9th such chart installed by the ESO in a public place and the first one in a remote tribal area.

3. In a unique initiative of raising awareness about Presbyopia, a bank and the local post office were provided with three sets of reading glasses with instructions for the public to use the same whenever they visit these places to check if they had symptoms of this ailment.

4. Awareness on eye health and vision care was imparted by the ESO team to the selected students of Saraswati Vidhya Mandir.

5. Posters on eye and vision care to be displayed prominently at the campus were provided to all the schools where screening was conducted.

6. A motivation talk was given by Dr. Sumathi Narayanan, ESO’s communication faculty to the students of two schools, Prabhavati Matriculation School and Saraswati Vidhya Mandir.

7. A survey on the activities of the children including indoor and outdoor activities was done in a school to understand the relationship between the low prevalence of refractive errors and day to day activities. A Knowledge, attitude and Practice (KAP) study was done among the teachers and students to understand the awareness about refractive errors among them.

8. The entire initiative was planned and carried out as a real-time learning and exposure to public health and community optometry, an important chapter for the third year UG students.

In conclusion it could be said that the diverse activities carried out and stay in a village school were a unique initiative and enriching experience for the students of the ESO. Interacting and playing with the kids at the school hostel and trekking their way to a water falls were fun filled and adventurous moments which the students would carry in their minds for a very long time. As a gesture of their love and kindness the ESO donated comic books to the Saraswathy Vidya Mandir School Library. Shri Nandakumar, Joint Commissioner, Income tax inaugurated the event and gave a motivational talk to the ESO students on 28th Feb 2016

The ESO takes this opportunity to convey its gratitude to Dr. PP. Santanam, Former Principal and Professor, Occupational Optometry and DAASYA, the NGO for their support of this most commendable community health activity.