December 2021

Sankara Nethralaya USA virtual concert raised $520,000 to restore vision to 8,000 patients

Inspired by a speech by Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt he attended in 1974, Dr. S S Badrinath founded Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai in 1978 with the sole objective of providing world class eye care, free to the poor and affordable price to others. Sankara Nethralaya (SN) is a not-for-profit charity organization providing ophthalmic (eye) care throughout India. For the last four decades, SN has treated millions of patients. SN also holds eye camps, school screenings and eye bank. One of the unique services is Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU), only one of its kind approved by Government of India. These are operation theatres on wheels. MESU consists of two buses serving as operation theatre, go out remote villages, perform cataract surgeries on 150 to 200 patients over a two-week period and return to main campus after post-operative care.

Sankara Nethralaya USA (SN USA), our fund-raising arm in US was established in 1988 with the sole objective of raising funds for Nethralaya to provide free services to indigent patients. SN USA is managed by thirty-five honorary trustees spread across fourteen chapters in US and has been raising over a million dollars during the past several years.

Every year, Sankara Nethralaya USA organizes Indian classical dance and music programs in various cities to raise awareness and funds. Because of the pandemic, this year all programs were conducted through online virtual streaming.

Renowned playback singer and music director, Parthu Nemani along with his music team presented virtual semi classical devotional music program on December 19th, 2021, and it was telecast by the following major channels:

Mana TV:

TVAsia Telugu:

Sakshi TV:



Great response to the program towards the Sankara Nethralaya USA year-end campaign raised USD $520,000 to restore vision to 8,000 indigent blind patients in India. Kudos to the fundraising team, Philanthropists, and community across the USA for unconditional support.

President Bala Reddy Indurti, President Emeritus S V Acharya, Vice President Moorthy Rekapalli planned, coordinated, and executed the Sankara Nethralaya USA year end campaign with grand success.

Dr. Girish Rao, President of Sankara Nethralaya made passionate appeal to the community for the campaign and explained Sankara Nethralaya service activities. During the program the MESU (Mobile Eye Surgical Unit) operations and the following brand ambassadors’ messages were shown: Former President and Bharat Ratna awardee Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Bharat Ranta Smt M.S. Subbalakshmi, Padma Vihushan Nani Phalkiwala, Padma Vibhushan Ratan Tata, Padma Vibhushan Amitabh Bachchan, Padma Vibhushan Rajnikanth, Padma Shri Sourav Ganguly, DRDO Chairman Dr. Satheesh Reddy, Tollywood actor Madhavan. Sankara Nethralaya Team is very thankful to these ambassadors.

Special thanks to Tollywood writer, actor, and director Tanikella Bharani for his passionate appeal to the campaign.

Thanks to Singer/Music Director Parthu Nemani and his team of Musicians: Prakash (Keyboards), Srinivas (Flute), Suresh Prasad (Tabala), and Srinivasa Reddy (Rhythms). Harmony: Students of Keerrhana Academy (Bhuvana Swaraja Challa, Vaishnavi Kovvuri, Akhil Chandra, Saketh Kommajosyula). Sai Deekshit Vangara (Camera & Lights), Sai Manohar Dubbaka (Recorded & mixed), Srikanth Pudari (Editing), Nagesh (Assistant), Krishna Priya Pothukuchi (Project Supervision), Keerthana Recording Studios (Sound), String Wings (Video Floor)

Thanks are due to Dr. Reddy Urimindi for promoting ‘nayanam pradhaanam’ program through Tori for 100 successful weekends. Thanks are due to Shyam Appali and Prameela Gopu for video editing and MESU video for TV channels. Thanks are due to all Board of Trustees, Volunteers, Philanthropists, and supporters who are working selflessly to restore vision for indigent patients.

Thanks are due to Dr. Raj Modi and Dr. Bellamkonda Kishore for spreading the news in AAPI event and publishing the news in JAAPI magazine.

Thanks are due to Moorthy Rekapalli for MESU (Mobile Eye Surgical Unit) project and the following ADOPT-A-Village donors Dr. Sanjeeva Reddy (New Orleans LA), Leela Krishnamoorthy (Houston TX), Anand Dasari (Dallas TX), Srini Vangimalla (Atlanta GA), Rajasekhar Aila (Detroit MI), Srinivas Ganagoni (New Jersey NJ), Suresh Vemulamada (Atlanta GA).

Thanks are due to Jagannath Vedula, and Chennai staff Theagarajan, Suresh Kumar, Sunitha Doss, Kavitha, and Dheenadayalan.

Fundraising team members: Bala Reddy Indurti, SV Acharya, Moorthy Rekapalli, Leela Krishnamoorthy, Dr. Raj Modi, Srini Vangimalla, Upendra Rachupally, Shankar Setty, Shyam Appali, Prasad Rani, Meher Lanka, Narayan Indurthi, Ramesh Chaparala, Sowmi Narayan, Neelima Gaddamanugu, and Banu Ramkrishnan.

As you already know during our mid-year campaign, we conducted Flute Nagaraju Talluri program and received $150,000 donation from Dr. Govinda Visvesvara to name a floor in Chennai Hospital. This is not included in year-end campaign

Thanks are due to media partners TVAsia (Srinivas Ganagoni) manaTV, TV5 (Sridhar Chillara, Ragini, and Harishi), Sakshi TV (Simhabaludu), GNN (Rammohan Reddy and Ravi Reddy Maraka) for promoting Sankara Nethralaya virtual streaming concert on Dec 19th at different timings to give the flexibility to all viewers in different time zones.

Sankara Nethralaya professionals were awarded with numerous awards for their outstanding accomplishments. Our founder Dr. S S Badrinath was given the prestigious awards of Living Legend and Padma Bhushan for his outstanding public service. Newsweek named Sankara Nethralaya as one of the four Best Ophthalmic institutions and one of the Best one hundred hospitals in the World. SN USA, our fund-raising arm in US was given the given the highest rating of four stars by prestigious rating organization Charity Navigator.

Please extend your support for this noble cause of restoring the vision of indigent patients by generously contributing at

To read the article on Great, please click here:-

Sankara Nethralaya Congratulates Dr. Sheila John on her Doctoral Degree

Sankara Nethralaya family congratulates Dr. Sheila John on receiving her doctoral degree from the Faculty of Surgery and Surgical Specialties, The Tamilnadu Dr. M. G. R. Medical University on 20th December 2021.  She successfully defended her doctoral thesis titled “To Compare the Accuracy of Computer-aided Grading for Presence or Absence of Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 2 Diabetes Patients in a Telescreening Program.”  Her aim was designed to provide inputs on the suitability of a computer-assisted DR screening solution on Type 2 diabetes patients, for use in a larger prospective study.

Dr. Sheila John was awarded her Ph.D during the convocation attended by Thiru M. K. Stalin, honourable Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and Shri R. N. Ravi, honourable 15th Governor of Tamil Nadu.

Mobile teleophthalmology camps were conducted in Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts, Tamil Nadu, India, from January 2015 to May 2017 and around 472 diabetic patients underwent teleconsultations at Sankara Nethralaya, Nungambakkam (main campus).  Around 1200 retinal photographs from Type 2 diabetes patients at diabetic clinics in Chennai were also imaged through tele-screening for the data analysis.

SN congratulates Dr. Deepmala Mazumdar for successful completion of her doctoral degree

The entire family of SN congratulates Dr. Deepmala Mazumdar for successfully completing her doctoral degree by carrying out scientific research with Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, India in collaboration with Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Her Ph.D. research is titled the ‘Visual Field responsiveness in glaucoma: An eye-tracking approach’ and was carried out under the guidance of Dr. Ronnie George (Director, Glaucoma Services), Prof Hans van der Steen, and Dr. Johan Pel (Dept. of Neuroscience, Erasmus MC). Her thesis proposed Eye Movement Perimetry as a potential tool for identifying visual field defects based on reflexive eye movement responses and recommended this technique as an additional/alternative technique of perimetry especially in those patients who face difficulties in reliably performing the conventional method.

The doctoral ceremony was a hybrid one (a combination of real and virtual events) due to COVID-related regulations and restrictions. The ceremony included a rector (moderator), three of her Ph.D. promoters, six honorable opponents from various subspecialties under the wing of vision science, and one paranymph (ceremonial assistant).

The public audience had a full video of the event series via youtube streaming. After the defense presentation and viva, the candidate was officially declared as a ‘Doctor’ and was awarded a university certificate and the prestigious Erasmus MC badge. The ceremony came to a conclusion with the commendation speech by Dr. Johan Pel.

Sankara Nethralaya serves the unorganized sector through Occupational Optometry

Sankara Nethralaya’s Department of Occupational Optometry Services conducted a focused continuous comprehensive services for the laborers in the unorganized sector.  Sunday camps also were held monthly once between July to November 2021 at the main hospital, with the invaluable support of Computer Ages Management Services (CAMS) as a part of their CSR activity.

This camp included a Visual Task Analysis Based eye examination for sculptors, hair dressers, fishermen, agricultural workers, and toy-making artisans crossing the borders of Tamil Nadu.  Around 896 workers benefited by these camps and around 686 individuals were dispensed with new glasses including safety eye wear & about 162 were referred for further specialty cross consultations.  Cataract surgery for about 28 patients were funded by CAMS and followed-up by OOS.

We thank all our supporters such as CAMS for collaborating in the fight  against preventable blindness and bringing quality eye care to the deserving patients of our nation.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan Performs Virtual Charity Fundraising Concert

Sankara Nethralaya USA hosted a concert by National Award Winner Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan in the fight against preventable blindness.  Each year, Sankara Nethralaya USA hosts numerous fundraising concerts to raise awareness and funds for the deserving patients.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan (born 2004) is an Indian playback singer.  In 2015, she won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer at the 62nd National Film Awards at the age of 10, becoming its youngest recipient.  She received the award for her soulful interpretation of the song “Azhage” (Beautiful) from the 2014 Tamil film Saivam, directed by A. L. Vijay.

Kumari Uthara Unnikrishnan started her virtual performance by offering an invocation to Lord Ganapathi composed by Lord Agathiyar in Tamil sung in Thilang ragam and Adi talam.  Shri P. Unnikrishnan introduced the virtual event and invited all the viewers to enjoy the virtual performance organized by SN USA.

Then Kumari Uthara sang the Telugu song, “Pibare Rama Rasam” composed by Sadasiva Brahmendra rendered beautifully in raga Ahir Bhairav in Adi talam.  She then rendered the Sanskrit song, Maadhava Maam Deva, a Krishna Kirthi in Sanksrit composed by Narayana Theerthar in Neelabari ragam and Adi talam. Her second song was the popular film song Maadu Meikkum Kanne in Tamil composed by Oothukkadu Venkat Subbaiyar.

The young prodigy sang a total of 7 Telugu and 2 Kannada devotional classical songs by various composers proving her versatility.

The closing speech was given by Shri Moorthy Rekapalli, Vice President, Sankara Nethralaya USA.  He thanked everyone for watching and supporting the cause.  He thanked the vocalist, Sri Uthara Unnikrishnan and the accompanying musicians for their flawless performances.  He also thanked Sri Shyam Appali, Board of Trustees, for taking care of all the technical aspects.

The virtual event raised a significant amount.  Thanks are due to media partners SakshiTV, manaTV, TVAsia, TV5, GNN, and US1 for promoting Sankara Nethralaya activities.

Sankara Nethralaya celebrates World Diabetes Day

SN celebrates World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14th 

This year we conducted a camp for people with diabetes who were hospitalized for COVID 19 infection.  The theme of WDD this year was to improve the access of care to people with diabetes.

There is evidence that patients with diabetes who additionally were hospitalised for Covid showed higher progression in diabetic retinopathy.  This could be due to many reasons such as ischemia experienced in Covid or due to lack of access to eye care during lockdown and fear of stepping out to get eye care assessment done.  Close to 600 patients were called on 14th November 2021 to the main branch for assessment.  This was done over 2 weeks with the help of the Communication department and Diabetic retinopathy team who called eligible patients and gave appointments.

A battery of tests that included ocular and Covid history, vision assessment, ocular biomicroscopy and applanation tonometry.  Following this the patients were dilated with mydriatic drop, fundus photograph was taken, their HbA1c was assessed with one prick test.  Dilated fundus evaluation was planned to be done by an ophthalmologist.

Based on the diagnosis, the patients were given counselling and advice by dietician on controlling blood sugar levels.  Additionally, this year special yoga which included breath control and simple yoga exercises were included.

Unfortunately, due to heavy rainfall and water lodging in many areas of Chennai, many elderly patients could not report on the specified date.  Of the patients who reported, 68% patients had no diabetic retinopathy, 24% had diabetic retinopathy but showed no progression and 16% of patients who had progression were referred for additional investigations and treatment.

Besides this initiative, Dr Rajiv Raman wrote an article in “Hindu” a leading newspaper in Tamilnadu explaining Frequently Asked Questions on Diabetic retinopathy.

In addition, an article with input of Dr RRN on Diabetic Retinopathy written by Mr A P Irungovel,  Manager- Medical Sociology was published in the Famous Tamil Weekly Kalki.