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.