November 2019

Big dreams, big achievements and big relief win big honours!


Terms like enterprising spirit, dreaming big, increasing market share and business innovation seem typically in sync with large commercial enterprises operating in a competitive marketplace. These qualities appear out of place in a not for profit, service oriented environment as they are essentially viewed as qualities that commercial enterprises need to survive, sustain and win in a tough marketplace. As an institution Sankara Nethralaya has proved several times that a not for profit, service oriented institution can also leverage these qualities as much as commercial enterprises to fulfil its mission effectively and professionally. Accolades like ‘Best Social Enterprise of the Year’, ‘Business Superbrand’ ‘Best IT adoption in Healthcare’, ‘Outstanding Institution Builder’ award to Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Dr SS.Badrinath, are testimonials of this. The institution was also chosen as a ‘Business Model’ for their case study by members of the Avicenna Leadership Program from the Innsbruck University, Austria pursuing their ‘Medical Education Leadership Course’ under the American-Austria Foundation and by the Eastern chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata to share its ‘Business Model’ at their seminar titled ‘Healthcare- Its reach, cost and quality’

It was a strong reiteration of the above spirit when Sankara Nethralaya was chosen as the ‘Best Healthcare Institution’ at the D2d (Dare to Dream Awards- Season-2) organized jointly by Zee Business and SAP, India. The jury applied their performance evaluation parameters of ‘Market Expansion’ (MESU & Teleophthalmology’s cost free outreach) ‘Business Innovation’ (MESU) and ‘Efficient Processes’ (overall functioning) in that order.  It is noteworthy to add that while the above qualities help an enterprise to increase its commercial worth and its stakeholder’s worth in the case of SN they helped in the common good of mankind and society at large by reviving the lostvision of a large base of underprivileged visually impaired.

The Sankara Nethralaya family expresses its gratitude to the organizers of the D2d awards, organized essentially to acknowledge winning commercial business models, for acknowledging and honouring its endeavours in alleviating the pain and suffering of mankind and making them self- reliant and independent and salutes the MESU and all our outreach teams for their excellent work in reaching eye care to the unreached.

PS- We request every member of the SN family to switch on the ‘ZEE Business’ channel on Saturday 30th November 2019 (tomorrow) & Sunday 1st December 2019 at 8:30 PM and enjoy the proud moment as Dr Girish Shiva Rao, President & Medical Director, MRF receives the ‘Zee Dare to Dream’ award-2019 from Dr Rajendra Kumar, Principal Secretary & Industries Commissioner, Government of Tamil Nadu, Mr Ritwik Ray, Senior Sales Manager, SAP, India, Mr Lal Singh, General Manager, Union Bank Of India, Chennai at the glittering award ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency, Chennai.

SN celebrates its knowledge dissemination efforts in the graceful presence of a venerable Guru!

Sankara Nethralaya’s annual celebration of knowledge sharing as enshrined in its tenets and acknowledging its achievers was celebrated with panache as the “31st Graduation ceremony of the Medical Research Foundation’ on the 2nd of November 2019. The event assumed great significance as it marked the graduation of the last batch of students belonging to the Elite School of Optometry – BITS, Pilani academic collaboration and the fact that it was being held under the Aegis of a most respected guru, friend, guide, philosopher, generous supporter and the 1st Principal of the Elite School of Optometry, (ESO) Dr P P. Santanam, a man whose impeccable character, sterling virtues and lofty ideals made him the most ideal example to emulate,  in the eyes of Dr SS.Badrinath and being chosen by him to lead the fledgling institution as a ‘Role model for the students’.  A man who continues to be ‘a shining role model’ to this day not only for the students of the pioneering institution he served as the first Principal, but to every staff member, consultant, scientist and researcher at Sankara Nethralaya.

It was a sight to behold as the graduating students walked up in their dream attire, the convocation gown, to receive their certificates from the chief guest and other peers similarly clad in their colourful attire, to the thunderous applause of the audience including their proud parents. The pledge and oath that followed reminded one of a new regiment of trained and spirited warriors leaving the fort to the battle field.

There was an air of confidence and pride in the voice of the institution’s head of academics, Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan and there was good reason for the same, the institution’s sterling achievements in ‘knowledge acquisition and dissemination’ one of its founding principles, came out loud and clear as she read out the ‘Academic Report’ filled with accomplishments of its stalwarts being conferred with Diplomates, Fellowships, Awards and other honours from the most prestigious seats of learning and professional bodies in India and abroad including the AAO. Royal College of Surgeons, Glasgow, Anglia Ruskin University, American Society of Retina specialists, IJO and the World’s No-1 healthcare agency the WHO, for the impact of their research findings and contributions to overall eyecare. This was matched by the impressive number of PhD’s won, papers published in peer reviewed journals by the students of the various educational institutions of the Medical Research Foundation. The most heartening aspect of the massive knowledge acquisition being showcased was its emphasis on the common good and translation into knowledge sharing through a list of major CME’s and meets and demonstrable impact on public health and pain alleviation through measures like a directive on optimal classroom illumination and ergonomics, specialized eye testing for drivers, vision evaluation charts in local languages that a lay man can make use of on his own, inputs on niche visual needs of sportsmen etc.

The most awaited Chief Guest’s address by the highly adored and respected Dr P P Santanam, a man captured in his shining avatars as an innovator, humanitarian, inspiring teacher, dedicated member of the SN family, generous contributor to research and academics, evolved soul, academician and a man who gave back all that he had to his institution, by Dr Rizwana, Assistant Professor, ESO and Head – Binocular Vision, held the audience in rapt attention, a speech which in his characteristic style was simple yet providing a lot of food for thought and sage counsel. The pioneer and leader in occupational optometry traced the origin and growth of the institution which was dearer to him than his home and the role of all those who contributed to its growth including its prime architect and visionary Dr SS.Badrinath.

The loving and caring academician had a word of advice to the large number of students gathered to keep their grey cells superior to gadgets by constantly exercising it and to practice their vocation/profession with ethics, compassion and commitment, which will eventually pave the way for rich rewards, instead of chasing short term and unethical gains. He closed his most absorbing talk with best wishes to the graduating students and a thoughtful observation that ‘Learning is a journey, not a destination’!!

The‘Optometry Wizard’establishes her wizardry over non-optometry fields as well!

AAO 2019

Festember-2019 the grand annual cultural and talent extravaganza of the‘National Institute of Tiruchirapalli’the 3 day inter collegiate festival showcasing culture, language, talent and knowledge held in October 2019, witnessed the exhibition of young talent and youth power in good measure. Keen participation from premium educational institutions like IIT-M, NIT Pondicherry, SRM University, NIT Trichy, ESO-SASTRA ensured non-stop action without a moment of dullness.

Mehal P.Rathore pursuing her Masters in Optometry under the ESO-SASTRA joint academic collaboration, the bright student whom readers would recall being honoured with the coveted title of ‘Optometry Wizard’ by Essilor, the leading optical devices company, for her proven mastery over a broad spectrum of subjects as diverse as clinical ophthalmology, ocular disease, clinical optometry, contact lens, Low Vision Aids, Binocular Vision and dispensing optics in a prestigious national competition. Mehal rose to the occasion once again at the Festember-2019, to prove that she is a force to reckon with in topics out of the ambit of optometry as well. Representing ‘Unmaad’ the Hindi literature club at SASTRA, the brilliant student exhibited great creativity, grasp, speed of communication and an enviable recall of old and new cinema and music to walk away with the first prize in both the dumb charades & Hindi music and cinema quiz.

The Sankara Nethralaya family applauds its young members superlative performance and honours in a keenly contested cultural event and wishes her a fun and knowledge filled academic journey.

SN’s champions in the ‘Science and art of Light and Vision’ make a major impact at its most prestigious global meet

AAO 2019

The 3rd World Congress of Optometry and 98th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Optometry (AAO) held during end October 2019 at sunny Orlando, the home of world famous ‘Tupperware’ range of serving and storage products, was a win, win situation for the Elite School of Optometry and Sankara Nethralaya, with its veteran Optometrists Dr Rizwana and Dr Anuradha making the best use of their presence at Optometry’s most prestigious global event. It was a proud moment for the institutions she represented when Dr Rizwana was called upon to make a grand round presentation on ‘Convergence and Divergence Insufficiency’- The Complex Couple’ a challenging syndrome for optometrists. Her well researched papers on the management of ‘Hemianopia’ and ‘Accommodative Spasm’ both critical challenges for practitioners of optometry were also very well received. The expertise and experience of the first Indian Optometrist to be awarded a ‘Diplomate’ by the AAO were sought by the ‘New Grad Optometry Community’ at the global meet, under the prestigious forum ‘Experience sharing by thought leaders in optometry’ and her in-depth response by way of sharing her experience as an optometrist at a tertiary eye care institution in India reiterated her subject matter expertise and ability to effectively communicate complex theorems and algorithms to freshers.

The event witnessed the conferring of AAO’s Fellowship, considered the highest recognition in Optometry on Dr. Anuradha, Head of Sankara Nethralaya’s School Screening Projects. The fact that her Fellowship was awarded on the basis of her extensive publications on the critical field of children’s eye health and the title of her paper ‘Role of eye screening in promoting gender equality’ came as a testimony to the passion, dedication and commitment of the Assistant Professor at ESO and champion of children’s eye care and her institution’s enduring values and philosophy.

The two young representatives succeeded in doing some valuable spade work for the inception of an exclusive India chapter at the AAO, the fact that the idea was very well received by the decision makers makes it a distinct possibility in the near future, a key development which would open the gates of the August body to budding optometry professionals, help in enhancing their knowledge, exposure and pursue their Fellowship at the most preferred destination for optometrists the world over.

The vibrant team held critical discussions with Dr Michael Twa, Dean, University of Houston and successfully drafted the next steps towards formalizing an academic alliance that would facilitate exchange of knowledge and collaborative research between scientists, researchers from Sankara Nethralaya’s educational institutions and the University of Houston. The team made the best use of the presence of a large number of Alumni of the ESO at the meet by extending their personal invite, discussing the grand event and finalizing speakers for the forthcoming ‘EIVOC’ the equivalent of the AAO, this side of the Atlantic. The visit combining such varied accomplishments by the team of Dr Rizwana and Dr Anuradha made it a truly rewarding and memorable trip.

Sankara Nethralaya’s multidisciplinary department conducts its multidimensional meet with a strong social message as its central theme


The Neuro-ophthalmology department at Sankara Nethralaya conducted it topical meet ‘Symposium in Neuro ophthalmology: Afferents plus Efferents” – ‘Synapse-2019’ involving participation by experts from across the world, belonging to a cross section of specialties like ophthalmology, Neurology, Neurosurgery and Radiology, with a down to earth message as its central theme. The department which treats a large number of head injury caused vision impairment cases strongly felt that it had a larger role extending beyond treating such cases, in terms of preventing such occurrences, by education and awareness creation. While any injury to the head could lead to such complications, it realized that ‘Road accidents’ contributed the most to head injuries. As an institution with a strong public orientation through education and awareness creation the Neuro-ophthalmology department decided that ‘Synapse- 2019’ would not only be a knowledge acquisition and dissemination event but help in spreading strong awareness on road safety. It also realized that reaching out a critical message to a large target audience cannot be a one day affair and has to be a multi approach communication spread over a period of time and space.


It was most appropriate that Synapse-2019 which witnessed the culmination of a yearlong communication effort on road safety with a strong emphasis on the threat to life and senses caused by head injuries was graced by the grandmaster of Neurology Dr G.Arjun Das. The much awaited event started to a packed to capacity hall at the Taj Coramandel with a soulful invocation by Dr Meenakshi Swaminathan, Senior Consultant Paediatric ophthalmology department followed by a warm welcome note to the dignitaries and attendees by Dr T S. Surendran, Vice Chairman, SN who in his customary nostalgia recalled the creation of the Neuro-ophthalmology department at SN, the brainchild of Dr SS.Badrinath with Dr Lingam Gopal as its first head to its present status, he recalled the active association of the department with Dr Arjun Das and his sage counsel since the days of its inception. Dr S.Ambika, Director Neuro-ophthalmology department, SN and key architect of the symposium underlined how road accidents endangered life and how traumatic brain injury often led to permanent vision loss, adding that in most cases the victims were in the age group of 20-50 years and were often the bread winners of the family. Dr Girish Rao, Medical Director, SN gave an interesting note of the day’s distinguished guests Dr R. Narayana Babu, Director of Medical Education under whose stewardship the health department is making impressive steps, he hailed Dr Arjundas as the Neurologist of the Millenium and Sankara Nethralaya’s long association with him and his son Dr Deeepak Arjundas. Speaking on the occasion Director Administration, Sankara Nethralaya Mrs Akila Ganesan listed the sequence of awareness creation initiatives conducted from the beginning of the year that included installing Logmar charts, distribution of eye check kits across 9 HP petrol bunks, talks, skit, quiz with road safety as the central theme and safety oath on world optometry day and a critical drivers screening test and distribution of free glasses with anti-reflective coating. She ended her note with a firm resolve that all of us are responsible for road safety and every driver should undergo complete eye examination. Delivering the keynote address Dr Narayana Babu highlighted the trailblazing healthcare initiatives of the State government in terms of opening healthcare centres on highways, increasing the number of ambulances, reducing response and morbidity time, the senior bureaucrat from the health department observed that the challenge before healthcare providers is to reach out quality healthcare at affordable costs to 70% of the population living in the rural areas. Guest of Honour Dr G. Arjundas started his talk with a warm thanks note and high word of praise to the Neuro-ophthalmology department at SN for their consistent contribution to the field, he went back in time regaling on how good and bad accidents shaped his destiny, his meeting with the stalwarts of his era and its influence, on him and the starting of SN by one of his favourite students.

The most interesting and absorbing event with a participation of 8 International speakers,27 National speakers involving challenging case studies, debates latest innovations, best practises by a cross section of experts consisting of Neurologists, Neurosurgeons, Pediatricians, Pathologists and Neuro-ophthalmologists witnessed the honouring of Dr Arjundas one of the legends in the field of Neurology with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and the release of a ‘Road Safety’ video with commentary by Actor Madhavan. The high power event came to a close with a warm vote of thanks to the distinguished guests, SN management, sponsors and distinguished delegates for their rich scientific contributions by Dr Shikha Talwar Bassi, Senior Consultant Neuro-ophthalmology dept.

An institution ingrained in his values and driven by his philosophy pays a ‘bright’ tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th birth anniversary

Sneham 2020

Even a cursory glance would reveal the striking similarity between the principles, values and objectives that govern Sankara Nethralaya as an institution and the ones propounded by the Father of the Nation. The institution came into being on the clarion call made by the Seer of the Kanchi Mutt, to strengthen the nation’s health care capabilities, as a step towards self-reliance, it dispenses eye care with a spirit of service and love and without disparity between paying and non-paying patients, clear Gandhian values and principles. The institution engaged passionately in fulfilling the Gandhian dream of independence, self-reliance and dignity of our countrymen, by reviving the lost vision of the indigent visually impaired, for more than 4 decades, decided that the best homage and tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th birth anniversary would be by adopting a ‘village’ where he declared ‘The Soul of India lives!’ and ensuring the healthy vision of every single resident. ‘Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital’s Anjali to the Mahathma’ whose acronym SNEHAM most appropriately translates as ‘Love’ or ‘Friendliness’ in Tamil, the brainchild of Mrs Akila Ganesan-Director Administration, Sankara Nethralaya evolved as a vehicle to fulfil the above.

Sneham 2020

It was most appropriate that Sankara Nethralaya’s homage to the Mahatma, SNEHAM-2020, was flagged off by Shri K S Kandaswamy, Collector, Tiruvannamalai district, a civil servant passionately committed to Gandhian values, presiding over the function as the Chief Guest and Shri Surajmal Jain friend and well-wisher of SN and a philanthropist deeply ingrained in Gandhian values and patron of the Suraj Sankara Nethralaya, as a guest of honour. Delivering the welcome address, Dr. Chandrakanth,-In-Charge of the Suraj Sankara Nethralaya, Tiruvannamalai hailed the occasion as a Red Letter Day and a giant step in the institution’s community outreach initiatives, he underlined that SNEHAM-2020 being flagged off most appropriately by a Gandhian civil servant will empower and liberate the villagers living in 150 villages in the district through revival of vision. Dr Anuradha Narayanan, Assistant Professor at the ESO and a driving force behind the project hailed that SNEHAM-2020 will bring Vision 2020 (100% vision) to the underprivileged, by year 2020 by eliminating avoidable blindness through massive screening of the local population, the expert in eye screening highlighted that these camps will help in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, refractive errors and offer preventive/curative care and free glasses. She highlighted that the success of any project depended on the people behind it and hailed the generous gesture of Mr Milind Jadhav, Senior Director, Inclusive Business & Philanthropy, South Asia, Essilor, gracing the occasion, for committing a staggering 50,000 spectacles, approximately valued at INR 1.5 crores for free distribution, from the Essilor Foundation, as their contribution to the project. Dr Anuradha thanked the Collector and Shri Surajmal Jain for supporting the distribution of self-help kits to the schools in the district with the help of which teachers could do basic eye examination of the students. Hailing the Collector as the very epitome of humanity Shri Surajmal Jain highlighted the humanitarian services rendered by him to the district which made him a fan of him, sterling qualities which came for fulsome praise with live examples in the intro of the chief guest by Mrs Akila Ganesan-Director Administration, Sankara Nethralaya

Delivering the Chief Guest’s address Shri KS Kandaswamy, Collector, Tiruvannamalai district exclaimed that it was a golden day for the district and expressed his thanks to Sankara Nethralaya for launching SNEHAM-2020, he hailed Shri Surajmal Jain’s generous gesture of donating an entire hospital for a noble cause as a rare gesture in today’s world adding that his numerous service initiatives have made him as important to the district as it’s administrative machinery. He underlined that SNEHAM 2020 would be a critical preventive care initiative which would help in diagnosing and treating ailments through its massive school screening programs. The service minded Civil Servant lamented that education today is unfortunately being viewed as something that would simply improve the scope for employment and earning opportunity of the individual and its larger role of imparting knowledge and character building is often neglected, he exhorted the students gathered in large numbers not to allow small hurdles to block their big goal, he advised them to not look for the family inheritance and instead focus on gaining knowledge and learning, as wealth will diminish with the passage of time but knowledge cannot be destroyed and will stand by them all through their life. He closed his talk on an emotional note that each brick of their classrooms will carry their dream and will happily and proudly welcome them when they achieve their dream and visit their old school as highly successful men and women.

SNEHAM-2020 Sankara Nethralaya’s ambitious cost free outreach initiative and 150th birth anniversary homage to the Mahatma put its best leg forward with its maiden eye screening camp at the Suraj Higher Secondary Matriculation school, Melthangal village, Chetpet Taluk, Tiruvannamalai district, the venue of the launch.