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.