As an institution which has several water shed initiatives in better understanding, controlling and preventing ‘Myopia’ like starting an exclusive ‘Myopia Control Clinic’, the role played in the launch of ‘Myopin’ an effective drug against the ailment in the country and the pride of its head of optometry and optical services being conferred with a PhD by the Anglia Ruskin University, UK for his in-depth findings on ‘Myopia’, the optometrists and Ophthalmologists of the ‘Myopia Control Clinic’ at Sankara Nethralaya’s main campus rose gloriously to the occasion of ‘Myopia Awareness Week’ being declared by the ‘ World Council of Optometry’ as the period between 13th – 19th May 2019.
Long time crusader against Myopia and champion of the Myopia Control Clinic at the institution, Dr Rizwana Hussaindeen summed up the purpose of the event succinctly as 1. To educate and create awareness on an ailment which is a lifelong financial burden which one has to bear on changing one’s spectacles periodically 2. The negative effect that wearing of glasses can have on one’s lifestyle and most importantly 3. The loss of vision that uncontrolled Myopia can lead to. The Assistant Professor at the Elite School of Optometry with an enduring interest in children’s eye health and an active player in the institution’s school screening camps shared alarming statistics on the impact of the ailment according to which ½ of the world is likely to become Myopic by year 2050, with close to a billion being in the category of ‘Highly Myopic’, she cited Japan, China and South East Asian nations as showing signs of this threatening epidemic with a majority of their citizens being bespectacled at a very early age, she quickly reassured that in comparison India was in a safer position but still cannot afford to treat the threat mildly and take steps on a war footing. Dr Rizwana underlined that myopia was not a simple open and shut problem which could be addressed by simply wearing a pair of glasses that the optometrist prescribes but an ailment which calls for a more serious approach.
It was day of extraordinary edutainment, the interns from the ESO and optometrists from the Myopia Control Clinic spread the word on the topic of the day through a series of fun games and brain teasers, brilliantly conceptualized by Ms. Aparna, Chief Optometrist, Myopia Control clinic, currently working on her doctoral thesis on the challenge of better understanding the risk factors contributing to Myopia progression. Ms Aparna combined her subject matter expertise on Myopia and remarkable creative skills to mentor the interns of the Elite school of Optometry and the Optometrists of the Myopia clinic (Ms. Anusha, Mr. Sourabh, Ms. Sangita Das and Ms. Aishwarya) who rose to the occasion with extraordinary skills and creativity which reflected through Myopia book marks, Fun memes and Skit show.
Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology Department and Director Academics, Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, an expert and veteran in the field blended her talk on Myopia with the spirit of the day with a racy, humour laced and interactive session that opened the eyes of the audience to the common follies they have ignored. The senior consultant whose services have been sought by ORBIS to train paediatric ophthalmologists in China in ensuring children’s eye health shared a lot of food for thought and simple but far reaching solutions to the ailment which largely affects children. Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan strongly underlined that the best route to good physical and mental health of children would be for them to get outdoors and play under the Sun, as natural light reduces the onset of Myopia, she urged parents to ensure that their child’s ‘screen time’ was limited to optimum levels and suggested that this time could be made less harmful on the child’s eye if the images/content received on the hand held phone or laptop could be beamed on to the big screen of the TV at home which the child could see and decipher from a healthy distance, instead of holding the screen of the device close to the eyes and straining it continously. The senior ophthalmologists cautioned that ‘Myopia’ is not a light thing as it is perceived to be and if left unchecked could lead to retinal lesions/detachment.
It was an evening of fun and entertainment with a message, talks by veterans in the field of ophthalmology and optometry coupled with distribution of awareness materials and WHO’s technology guidelines released on the occasion providing a lot of take home messages on Myopia.