As an eye care pioneer Sankara Nethralaya has several proud firsts to its credit, the first ophthalmic institution in Asia to be accredited by the ISO, the first to start a large exclusive research centre in the private sector, the first to perform eye surgeries outside a conventional operation theatre in a base hospital, a place in the Limca book of records for the highest number of children screened in a single day, developing the first Logmar chart in local languages and the Patent for some critical findings in ophthalmology. But this time around the Elite School of Optometry was attempting to remove the State of Tamil Nadu and its capital city of Chennai from the Number1 position which it had ‘gained’ for itself! the reason was simple, the No-1 position was a dubious distinction, as the City and State were declared by the WHO as the ones with the highest road accidents in the world!
As public spirited institutions Sankara Nethralaya and its academic arm the Elite School of Optometry realized that they had a moral responsibility towards making the city safe for its riders, drivers and pedestrians, thus was born the initiative ‘An eye for safety’ and ‘an eye on the road’ in February 2019. It was the continuation of this that was being observed on world optometry day. Dr Krishna Kumar, Principal, ESO, started the day on a somber note with chilling facts on lives and limbs lost on the tarred surface connecting people and places; distance in time and space have an insulating effect on people but the fact that he was referring to roads becoming killing fields, not in a distant land but in their own backyard brought disturbing recollections of smashed windscreens, sound of wailing sirens and that blotch of blood on the black road, which every resident of this metropolis had become familiar with. The silver lining on the dark picture was the revelation that simple steps like wearing helmet and seat belt, observing traffic rules, avoiding drunken driving, and ensuring healthy vision were small measures that could make a impact on road safety to both the driver and the pedestrian. The senior vision professional listed the distance in which a driver with healthy vision will be able to see objects, light etc on the road and how this would give enough time to take safety steps and how lack of good vision could catch a driver by surprise and give him too little time to maneuver or take any steps.
The institution honoured Mr Subbaram an ex-service man and disciplinarian and proud father of Mr Senthil an IT professional, the unsung hero working alone and purposefully towards safety on the roads by showcasing safety rules and tips as messages on his backpack on the way to work and back. The ESO distributed such backpacks with critical traffic do’s and don’ts to the young audience. As an institution known to leverage youth power in all its social endeavours the ESO gave the task of creating safety awareness on the roads to its favourite segment and students from CMC Vellore, Vasan Institution of ophthalmology and research, Sri Jayendra Saraswati institution of optometry, Regional Institution of ophthalmology and government ophthalmic hospital, Sankara Nethralaya academy and Agarwal Institute of optometry. The students rose gloriously to the occasion as only they can and what followed was an hour of sheet magic and poetry. Videos, slogans, Adzap, Mime, Team quiz, Simulator, Ramp walk, skits with the central theme as eye donation, vied with one another to drive home the point effectively with a generous dash of humour making it a memorable evening of edutainment.
The momentous day ended with the release of a road safety video produced by the ESO with assistance from SN’s multimedia team and taking of a pledge of oath by the large audience.