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.