May 2016

The Art and Science of Vision and Visual systems take a giant step

The establishment of the Elite School of Optometry Sankara Nethralaya’s exclusive academic arm on the subject, several decades ago marked the beginning of a most important chapter in a rather less known field of eye care in the country. The institution which has over the years carved a place of pride for itself in terms of being a globally acknowledged institution in its field took a giant step forward with the ‘Bhumi Puja’ for its ‘Institute of Occupational Optometry and Visual Sciences’ at the Sri City Special Economic Zone in Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh. The auspicious beginning was made with great religious fervour under the auspices of Professor PP.Santanam, hailed as the ‘Father of Occupational Optometry’ in India and Srimathi Santanam. Dr. SS.Badrinath the Chief architect of the project used the opportunity to have an informal interaction with the local villagers gathered on the occasion, he explained the difference between ophthalmology and optometry and underlined that all of Sankara Nethrlaya’s endeavours at Sri City were for the welfare of the locals. Extending a warm welcome to the dignitaries and participants Dr. K.S.Vasan, MD Sankara Nethralaya emphasized the institution’s strong India centric research, the need for developing Optometry and the objectives of the proposed institution, he had a high word of praise for Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy, CEO, Sri City for providing a large extent of land for the research and clinical care initiative. Dr. Eesh Nigam, Senior Consultant, Sri City Sankara Nethralaya summed up the inception and growth of the unit and its service to the locals, he added with pride that 40% of its patients were treated cost free; it had a zero infection record and was empanelled with the Satish Dhawan Space Research Centre at Sriharikota. This was followed by a touching first person account of an indigent patient who benefited from the cost free care dispensed by the Sri City Sankara Nethralaya and an audio visual presentation of the proposed facility.

Addressing the gathering Shri S.Krishna Kumar, Principal, Elite School of Optometry underlined that the proposed facility would provide the much needed occupational optometry support to the workers from diverse industries located in the zone, he thanked Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy for his noble gesture of providing cost free land, for Sankara Nethralaya’s research initiatives. Shri Krishna Kumar introduced Dr. PP. Santanam the first Principal of the Elite School of Optometry and a great well wisher of the institution gracing the occassion, highlighting his academic achievements, dedication and philanthropy. Professor Santanam described the Bhumi Puja as the first proud step of a child, underlining that 80% of all sensory perception is through vision he proclaimed that Sankara Nethralaya as an institution would do everything needed in this field of vision. Speaking on the occasion Dr SS.Badrinath thanked Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy wholeheartedly, describing him as a man who has kept his word, he also had a word of thanks for Shri Chandrasekhar a great friend and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya who was formerly with L&T for his role in bringing Shri Ravi Reddy close to Sankara Nethralaya, he lauded the role of Dr PP.Santanam and Dr KS.Varadarajan the two stalwarts for their role in the inception of the ESO and Shri Krishna Kumar, Principal of the institute for proving the critical need for developing occupational optometry through research initiatives, he also had a  high word of praise for Shri Suresh Kumar, DGM Projects, Sankara Nethralaya for the speedy completion of the Sri City project. Shri Chandrasekhar commended Dr. SS.Badrinath for his commitment to his ideals adding that Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy and Dr. SS.Badrinath symbolized the physical and social infrastructure of the proposed institution. Acknowledging the thanks note by the senior members of Sankara Nethralaya, Shri Ravi Sanna Reddy underlined that the allocation of land to the institution was not an act of philanthropy but an act to meet the need for eye care in the local region by facilitating world class eye care by Sankara Nethralaya. Delivering the chief guest’s address Shri B.Santhanam, President& MD, Flat Glass, Saint Gobain, South Asia, Egypt and Malaysia highlighted the huge need for research in occupational optometry in the country, he observed that setting up of the institute will help in bridging the gap in this critical area.

Critical reviews and a differing view point mark prestigious endowment lecture at Sankara Nethralaya

The 13th edition of the annual Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment Lecture held recently at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium assumed great significance on account of 3 factors, the August presence of Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri  the founder of the endowment and his wife Dr. Nagamani Beligere Dharmapuri, in whose honour it was created, an interesting curtain raiser on the topic of the evening, titled ‘Nystagmus Decoded’ by Dr. Sumitha Agarkar, Deputy Director, Paediatric Ophthalmology and her team and a thought provoking lecture by Professor Richard W. Hertle, Chief, Paediatric Ophthalmology, Director, Children’s Vision Centre, Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, Ohio, known for his radically different views and revolutionary approach to the subject. The lecture organized by the Paediatric Ophthalmology Department of Sankara Nethralaya and Madras Ophthalmological Association (MOA) opened to a full capacity audience awaiting the guest lecture on a most critical field of ophthalmology.

Extending a warm welcome to the gathering, Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology Department, Dr.R.Srikanth, paid glowing tributes to the selfless service rendered to the field of Neo-Natal care in the country by Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri and Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri whom he described as good friends of Dr.SS.Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, he had a high word of praise for the commendable work being done by the Paediatric Ophthalmology department at Sankara Nethralaya. Introducing the distinguished Chief Guest of the evening Dr.S.Geethalakshmi, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr.MGR Medical University, Dr.S.Meenakshi, Senior Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmology Department and Director, Academics, Sankara Nethalaya described her as an academician par excellence, a wonderful guide to young researchers and an inspiring role model.

Speaking on an emotional note Dr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri expressed that the uniqueness of Sankara Nethralaya never failed to inspire him and his wife, adding that it was not only in terms of medical excellence but an exclusive spiritual quality, thanks to the vibrations of Sankara felt through his ardent disciples Dr. SS.Badrinath and Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath. He gave a brief on what inspired him to establish the endowment and Dr. Nagamani’s critical contributions to the field of pre and post natal care. He highlighted that the objective of the Dr. Nagamani Dharmapuri Endowment was to disseminate knowledge on paediatric ophthalmology which he felt could be best achieved by supporting an institution like Sankara Nethralaya which does great work in the field. He referred to the Sanskrit quote ‘Vidyartham Maha Dhaanam’ which translates as ‘providing knowledge is the greatest of all charity’ adding that it was his small token of support towards supporting paediatric ophthalmology, the globally renowned paediatrician and philanthropist  closed his talk with a hearty thanks to his friend Dr. SS..Badrinath for ‘Keeping up the glorious tradition’.

Recalling her visit to Dr. Professor Richard W. Hertle’s clinic at Ohio several years ago, Dr. Sumitha Agarkar, described the speaker of the day as a slightly controversial but highly acclaimed doctor and researcher who has done groundbreaking work in the field of Nystagmus, she also highlighted his association with the teaching and training initiatives with a community hospital at Rajahmundry. Speaking on the occasion Dr S.Geethalakshmi, Vice-Chancellor, the Tamil Nadu Dr.MGR Medical University described Sankara Nethralaya as a premium ophthalmic institution; she expressed her deep respects to Dr SS.Badrinath for serving the poor and needy of the State and his service in the field of education. She described Nystagmus and paediatric ophthalmology as the most relevant fields of study to prevent congenital blindness especially in a country with a high prevalence of consanguineous marriages. She expressed that a collaborative study is the need of the hour to prevent neo-natal blindness; she underlined the need for special training in paediatric ophthalmology and encouraged Sankara Nethralaya to go ahead with a new course in the field.

Delivering the endowment lecture on the title ‘How and what we learned from studying Nystagmus in infancy and early childhood’ Dr. Richard W.Hertle expressed that he was humbled by the compassion that he saw all around him. What followed was an interesting exposition of his radically different views, tracing the history of Nystagmus he expressed his surprise on how even ‘Science’ a rational subject found it difficult to break old beliefs, he gave an in-depth account of the subject, touching on the different manifestation of Nystagmus namely pathological and physiological, 11 broad types of the ailment, ambylopia, inflammation etc. He also touched upon Nystagmus in the womb. The veteran doctor cited interesting illustrations and real-time case studies to question generally accepted norms in the subject and present his own interpretations.

The most engaging and informative event came to an end with a vote of thanks by Dr.Akila Ramkumar.

A publisher of repute, a prestigious builder and a group of spirited runners rise to the occasion most gloriously.

At Sankara Nethralaya we are only too aware that our commitment towards eradicating blindness and bringing the light of vision and smile back on the face of the visually impaired, especially the indigent would remain unfulfilled without help from generous and like- minded individuals and institutions. As a service oriented institution nothing is more heartening to us than the gesture of busy enterprises and individuals taking time from their most pressing schedules and compelling business commitments to fulfil an inner calling, to serve humanity. In a shining example of giving without being asked and giving with humility the ‘Prestige Group’ among the nation’s most reputed builders, known for their landmark projects, made a huge contribution in support of Sankara Nethralaya’s cost free eye care initiatives, the donation was made at the request of Shri Irfan Razack the MD of the organization who holds the institution’s service to the poor in high regard and the cheque was handed over to Dr. SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus by Shri Suhail Ahmed, Senior Manager Accounts. The Scientific Publishing Company among the foremost in educational publishing in the country exhibited its concern for the same cause by donating two buses to facilitate the cost free transport of patients, the keys to the brand new vehicles were handed over by Shri Sharad Wasani, CEO of  Scientific Publishing and Shri Selvaganesh, Manager-Accounts to Dr. SS.Badrinath and Dr TS.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya at a simple flagging off ceremony at the main campus of Sankara Nethralaya. The Marina Runnerz a group of young runners gave running a new meaning by organizing a charity marathon of their members and the general public for social causes, while the cost free stall provided at the YMCA, Nandanam, the venue of the curtain raiser provided Sankara Nethralaya employees an opportunity to communicate the institution’s message to the large number of visitors, Senior Consultants Dr. Aditya Varma and Dr. Chetan Rao answered eye care related queries of the attendees at the stall. The proceeds of the run were handed over to Dr SS.Badrinath by Shri Prasanna Kumar Nathella, Shri Soni and Ms Rashmi Gupta the organizers of the charity marathon towards supporting cost free eye care to poor patients.