August 2018

Four decades of tender ophthalmic care to the nation’s future citizens wins its due recognition!

Dispensing eye care to children has always been a challenge to ophthalmologists in view of the fact that they may not be able to express their discomfort or symptoms in a very clear manner, the way adults can. As a pioneer in eye care, Sankara Nethralaya has the distinction of operating a large, exclusive paediatric ophthalmology department which treats a large number of children from just born to teens, from all over the country, the department is also credited with having developed special diagnostic/treatment protocols  to effectively treat this gentle segment.

The  66th annual conference of the Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic Association (TNOA) conducted as ‘Pudhu Vue-2018’ on the 10th,11th and 12th of August at the Mahathma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institution, Puducherry witnessed the honouring of Dr TS.Surendran, Director- Department of Ophthalmology and Vice Chairman Sankara Nethralaya, who is credited with having pioneered pediatric ophthalmology as a specialty at Sankara Nethralaya and the man who trained and built a team in this niche specialty, with a Lifetime Achievement award. The prestigious award presented by Ms Kiran Bedi, Lieutenant Governor of   Puducherry and the loud applause and cheering by the large fraternity of ophthalmologists gathered at the venue came as a tribute not only to the veteran paediatric ophthalmologist’s professional skills, dedication, acumen and for successfully treating a large number of children during his long and glorious career, but also for his personalized and loving care to his little VIPs (very important patients!).

The Sankara Nethralaya family salutes its Vice Chairman and Director –Pediatric  Ophthalmology department on being accorded this high honour for his lifelong services, by a premium professional body and conveys its hearty Congratulations.

Congrats Sir!!

Melodious music touches the soul and moves hearts at Lemont

The auditorium at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont presented a festive picture on the evening of Sunday August 12th, 2018 with Carnatic music aficionados from Lemont and neighbouring areas gathered in good numbers. The occasion was a Carnatic music concert to create awareness on the cost free community service to poor visually impaired patients in India by Sankara Nethralaya the premier, non profit eye hospital in Chennai, among the local Indian community and raise funds in aid of the same, the concert was organized by Mrs Vanita Achar, a long time well wisher, supporter and grand niece of Dr S.S. Badrinath, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya.

The concert began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha by Mrs Vanita Achar, after which she extended a warm welcome to the audience and expressed her sincere thanks for their presence, followed by a brief note on the objective of the concert. Mr. Vignesh Ramakrishnan the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ (MC) introduced the 4 artists of the day’s concert, Smt Minu Pasupathi of Akshaya Music Academy, the Lead vocalist, Ms Akshaya Kannan providing vocal support, Shri Rishabh Ranganathan on the Violin and Shri Sivagangai Vishvak Kumaran on the Mridangam, all of whom were performing cost free for a noble cause, in response to a request made by Mrs Vanita Achar.

The highlight of the concert was its thematic presentation, the special effort made to choose kritis having a direct connection with eyes, vision and awakening was very evident and impactful. The first 3 Tamizh songs were as follows – Sadashivakumara, Panneer Kondoru, Kadaikkan Vaitthennai, followed by Shambho Siva Sankar (Sanskrit). This soulful rendition of songs about the eyes was followed by a short 8 minute video about Sankara Nethralaya and its services, especially to the weaker sections of society and the need to support its noble initiatives. This was followed by an ‘Eye Donation Pledge’ drive by Dr Raj Rajaram,  supporter and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya. He highlighted that there was no greater gift to mankind than the ‘Gift of Sight’ and fervently appealed to the gathering to help in bringing the lost light and smile back on the face of the poor visually impaired in their motherland by donating generously. The second part of the concert included the following popular songs – Raaraa Rajeeva Lochana (Telugu), Annapurne Visalakshi (Sanskrit), Kandu Kandu Nee (Kannada) and concluded with the song Man ki Aankhen (Hindi).

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the well synchronized performance by the singers and musicians. The event was sponsored by 8K radio, media partner who promoted the event cost free for 2 weeks leading to the event date on their radio and Facebook page. The event concluded with the felicitation of artists, with the audience loudly applauding their sterling performance rendered cost free for a noble cause, as each of them made their way to the dais to be presented with a stemmed rose and honoured by draping of a Pashmina Shawl around their shoulder. Smt Minu Pasupathy the lead artist was honoured with a special memento from Sankara Nethralaya. The evening of fun, filled with soothing music was enjoyed by one and all!

SankaraNethralaya’s quest for a solution to ocular surface disorders reaches far beyond the surface!

The Ocular Surface and Keratoprosthesis Conference (OSKON-2018) the international conference to debate and discuss the challenges faced by the ocular surface of the eye and Keratoprosthesis, conducted from the 27th to 29th of July 2018 had all the elements that make a Sankara Nethralaya event, in a well balanced proportion.

If the 3 day, high power conference attended by national and international expertson the field from the world over went into the depth of the ocular surface, unravelling new facts,questioning old theories,throwing light on new technology, sharing new approaches and real time experience through case studies,the valedictory function held at the packed to capacity Ball Room of The Taj Coramandel on 29th of July 2018,was a giant step towards creating awareness on the gravity of the issue among the political dispensation, seeking political will, mandate and legislation, to give teeth to preventive measures discussed in the meet; another element that gave the conference a distinct Sankara Nethralaya flavour was the fact that it was held as a ‘Thanksgiving’ and ‘Honour’ to the ‘Gurus’ in keeping with the institution’s avowed Guru-Sishya Parampara, to Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli whose revolutionary process Modified osteo-odonto Keratoprosthesis (MOOKP) brought new hope to those suffering with extreme ocular surface issues and Dr G.Sitalakshmi who steered the concept in India.

Extending a warm welcome to the Chief Guest Shri Venkaiah Naidu the Vice President of India, Guest of Honour Shri Bhanwarilal Purohit, the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri C.Vijaya Baskar, Health Minister and Shri D.Jayakumar, Minister for Fisheries, at the grand valedictory session, Dr Prema Padmanabhan, the veteran cornea specialist from Sankara Nethralaya observed that the conference was something beyond an academic event confined to acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, she highlighted that it was a collective assertion of the moral responsibility of the cornea fraternity against ocular surface disorders especially those caused by human misconduct and folly, a multi layered approach to a multilayered challenge. Dr Prema Padmanabhan expressed that the presence of the Vice-President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu a dynamic statesman who was unflinching in his beliefs, as the Chief Guest of the event filled everyone with the hope that the entreaties made at the conference will get the right political direction. Her sentiments were echoed by Dr GeethaIyer, Senior Consultant and Organizing Secretary, OSKON 2018, who described ocular surface disorders, especially the ones caused by external factors like accident, careless handling of hazardous substances and planned assaults which disfigured the victim’s appearance as a physical, psychological, social and economic problem impacting the career and marital prospects of the victim. Simplifying the MOOKP process to the non-ophthalmic section of the audience, Dr Iyer added interest to the proceeding with a highly absorbing and emotional short movie of the grandmaster of the art and science of MOOKP, Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli, capturing not only his genius but the warm human being in him. If the short movie capturing their experience in terms of revival of vision, by victims of acid attack and their physical presence at the event came as a real time testimonial to Sankara Nethralaya’s expertise in the process, Dr Geetha’s observation that 70% of MOOKP processeswere done totally cost free at Sankara Nethralaya highlighted the service orientation of an institution, which took the most advanced ophthalmic processes and technology totally cost free to  its indigent patients and drew loud applause from the large national and international gathering

One of the primary objectives of OSKON-2018 was to sensitise the ruling dispensation, seek political will and legislation to give teeth to the resolutions passed at the conference. An institution known for spearheading key initiatives like making it mandatory for maternity hospitals to check expecting mothers for the presence of galactose in the blood since it could result in the babiesbeing born with cataract, an institution which succeeded after a lot of persuasion and presenting of real time evidence in convincing the Union Health Ministry to permit cataract surgeries to be performed in a mobile OT far away from the base hospital, in a remote village and more recently an institution whose study on classroom illumination and seating pattern have been accepted as a blue print by the State’s Directorate of school education, as a guideline to regulate classrooms across the State, Sankara Nethralaya joined hands with likeminded institutions like the All India Institute for Medical Science, New Delhi, Government Eye Hospital, Chennai, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, Arvind Eye Care, Madurai and NGOs like MEER Foundation and ASFI to present a memorandum to the Vice President for passing a legislation prohibiting the sale of slaked lime or ‘Chuna’ in plastic pouchesas well as implement the ban on sale of acids

The event marked the launch of a national campaign towards prevention of corneal blindness due to Chemical Injuries. Speaking on the occasion Dr Shwetha S.Agarwal, Consultant, Cornea Department and member of the OSKON 2018 organizing committee,  made a strong case for making it mandatory for chemists and stores to dispense acid only to customers furnishing an ‘Aadhar Card’ to keep track of buyers and avoid its misuseIf the 3 day scientific session shed new light on the diagnosis and treatment of Ocular surface disorders, the successful treatment of vision loss and damage to the ocular surface caused by the most vitriolic substances including molten metal, the valedictory session succeeded in its objective of reaching out to the ruling dispensation represented on the dais by the Vice president of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu and two senior Ministers of the state. The leaders in their address expressed high admiration for Sankara Nethralaya’s pioneering role in battling blindness, the one of its kind ‘Mobile Eye Surgical Unit’ (MESU) and its revolutionary outreach, its self sustaining financial model, its role in knowledge dissemination, the OSKON 2018 being a good example of the same, they raised their voice in favour of eye donation, advocated state-private partnership in healthcare, outreach programs benefiting the rural poor etc, everyone of them had a high word of admiration for the visionary spirit of founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr.SS.Badinath.

Acid attack survivors being presented with a plaque in admiration of their courage and fighting spirit and the presentation of a plaque of honour by the Vice President of India as a tribute to the grandmaster of MOOKP Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli a humanitarian doctor and simple human being, which was received by rof Christopher Liu in the presence of Mr.Sauro Mezzetti the Italian Consul in Pondicherry, were important highlights of the day.

The highly charged proceedings came to an end with Dr Bhaskar Sinivasan coorganizing secretary OSKON-2018 expressing his sincere thanks to the dignitaries and delegates and everyone who had contributed to the grand success of the event.

A simple adaptation of critical findings of a real time study on ‘Classroom illumination and student seating pattern’ finds place in popular health magazine

We take great pleasure and pride in sharing a case of a niche research initiative by Sankara Nethralaya’s senior optometrist and researcher finding real time significance and high recognition. Ms Kalpa Neglioni, PLOS one Senior Research Optometrist, LASFIN project, Sankara Nethralaya and Lecturer at the Elite School of Optometry (ESO) has been working for long on the prevailing illumination levels and seating modalities in typical Indian classrooms and their impact on the visual comfort and health of children, a most significant and relevant study, in view of the fact that children between 5 yrs and 16 years spend 6 hours every day at the classroom. The studies were done under the guidance of Dr RR. Sudhir, Senior Consultant, CJ Shah Cornea Services, Sankara Nethralaya. The team had made several corrective recommendations in this regard based on their findings. It was a moment of crowning glory to the institution when the recommendations of Ms Kalpa Negiloni made from the understanding of studies conducted over a large number of schools in Tamil Nadu, was adopted by the Directorate of School Education, Tamil Nadu, as a benchmark in regulating the same and shared as a guideline circular with the District Education officers in the State. It is noteworthy to mention here that an earlier study on the topic of lighting and ergonomics in Indian classrooms by Ms Kalpa had found its place of pride, as a human interest article in the ‘Times of India’, she was also recognized by the Elite School of Optometry, for converting her conference paper as an article in a peer reviewed journal.

The entire Sankara Nethralaya family congratulates and salutes Ms Kalpa Neglioni, her team and Dr. Sudhir for this most critical finding and eye opener which would impact the eye health and vision of millions of children in the State. We complement Shri Irungovel, Manager – Patient Counselling and Education for communicating the same to the general readers through his simple adaptation of the same in a popular health magazine.